The year 2022 might seem distant, but it’s a year many residents, travelers and local businesses have reason to look forward to.
Based on the state Department of Transportation’s calendar, it’s the date by which much of the highway and street work linked to the Interstate 90/39 expansion project through Janesville should be done.
But before 2022 ends, businesses and anyone traveling through Janesville’s north side business corridor will have one last road construction headache to weather.
Starting in late April 2022, the DOT plans a six-month partial closure of a chunk of Highway 14. That’s as the DOT reconstructs and upgrades a stretch of Highway 14 from just east of Deerfield Drive to Milton Avenue.
The work will turn the north-side business artery from a “rural” highway to an “urban” stretch, including curb and gutter, sidewalks, and a 10-foot-wide “multi-use” trail.
The closure, according to DOT release, will shut down all lanes of traffic on Highway 14 between Pontiac Drive and Milton Avenue.
According to plans the DOT is now working on, the closure would run the whole course of the six-month project, and it would come with local detours and routes around the work zone using I-90/39, Deerfield Drive, Pontiac Drive, the improved Ryan Road and Milton Avenue.
Traffic on Lexington Drive would be able to cross the closed area of Highway 14 using a single lane, according to the plans. That would give neighborhood residents a more direct conduit to some north-side businesses.
The DOT decided after December feedback sessions with Janesville businesses and the city that the partial closure of Highway 14 was the “preferred alternative” of three options.
I-90/39 project spokesman Steven Theisen said some of the other options included keeping a single traffic lane open during work without relying on detours around the project.
He said the closed-off part of Highway 14 could be used as a construction and equipment staging area, and having alternate routes for traffic would help relieve congestion along Highway 14 during the project.
“A lot of it, I think, was the get-in, get-out method. We don’t need to worry about just one lane on the whole highway,” Theisen said.
The project plan the DOT is settling on would involve “temporary” closure of ramps at the Interstate, although dates of closure and other parts of the project are still being worked out.
Theisen said the DOT expects some traffic backups during the project because the open section of Highway 14 will have two lanes open instead of four.
The DOT release also indicate some intersections—including Ryan Road, Pontiac Drive, Morse Street and Deerfield Drive—could have heavier traffic, and the intersections could operate “poorly” because of traffic congestion.
The Highway 14 intersection with Milton Avenue likely would have a “triple-left” turn required.
Theisen said the DOT wanted to begin to prepare motorists and businesses for the project far in advance so people become familiar with the temporary traffic changes in store.