Interstate 90/39 project kicks off summer with smaller projects

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Jim Leute
Tuesday, April 29, 2014

JANESVILLE—As state and federal lawmakers wrangle over road project funding, Interstate 90/39 motorists in Rock and Dane counties will experience only minor inconveniences this summer.

That's because the heavy work on the 45-mile expansion of the Interstate between the Illinois state line and Madison isn't expected to start until 2015.

It likely will start next year only if adequate funding is in place to see the $950 million project through to completion in 2019.

State officials have acknowledged in recent weeks that a funding shortfall could delay the expansion of Interstate 90/39, which would widen the Interstate from four to six lanes and from four to eight lanes through Janesville.

The state faces a transportation budget shortfall of up to $700 million for the next biennium, which runs July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2017. That coincides with a significant chunk of work scheduled on the I-90/39 project.

Meanwhile, a federal funding bill expires at the end of September, and the likelihood of a reauthorization bill is uncertain.

Regardless, state highway officials are moving ahead with their plans for the remainder of this year.

On tap this summer, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, are:

Repaving in Rock County: Later in May, the department plans to repave portions of the Interstate from Milwaukee Street in Janesville to just north of the Highway 51/73 interchange near Edgerton.

The work will be done on both the northbound and southbound lanes.

That begs the question: Why repave something that will be ripped up in a year or two?

“When we do the mainline reconstruction, traffic will be shifted over,” said Jim Buschkopf, the DOT's I-90/39 corridor project manager. “There will be four lanes of traffic with a concrete barrier down the middle, and we want to ensure that the existing pavement will hold up under the traffic.”

Once traffic becomes congested and constant, it's virtually impossible to make roadway repairs, he said.

The paving project will not be continuous, he said. It will be done in a patchwork manner in both directions.

The repaving work is expected to run into October, and nighttime lane and shoulder closures are expected.

Highway 73 reconstruction: Highway 73 in Dane County is expected to be an alternative route for the mainline Interstate expansion projects, and that's why it's getting a significant facelift this summer.

Primary work includes the reconstruction of existing roadway, shoulders and intersections for a nine-mile stretch that runs from Edgerton to just north of Highway 12/18.

The project will address poor pavement conditions, drainage, substandard alignments and intersection safety.

Highway 73 is closed to all but local traffic until November.

Starting this week, pavement removal and grading is planned for the northern-most three miles of the highway.

Bridge work in Dane County: The southbound I-90/39 bridge over Siggelkow Road will be reconstructed. Siggelkow Road is just south of the Yahara Hills Golf Course near the Madison Beltline.

Southbound traffic will be shifted to the northbound lanes, and two lanes will remain open in each direction.

Shoulder work already has started, and motorists can expect to see nighttime operations.

In mid May, Siggelkow Road will be closed completely until November.

Other work: While crews finished up the majority of the Racine Street bridge reconstruction last fall, they have returned to finish items that they couldn't get to last year because of weather.

In addition, traffic monitoring cameras and message boards will continue to be erected along the entire corridor this spring.

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