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First Half of Wis.’s Highway 172 Wraps Up Near Green Bay

Thu December 17, 2009 - Midwest Edition
Dorinda Anderson

Construction on the first half of a 5.5 mi. (8.8 km) stretch of roadway that will ease traffic issues for a future project was completed this fall in time for the Green Bay Packers football season.

There was potential to complete both halves of this Green Bay, Wis., area Department of Transportation project in one year, but there was no way to know what Mother Nature would dish out, and the possibility of major delays to weather could have made it difficult to finish the project in one year, so it was decided that the work would be separated into two seasons, explained Kristin Van Hout, project leader of construction engineering consultant Graef-USA Inc., of Green Bay, Wis. Delayed work would also have affected traffic for the Green Bay Packers stadium, which is located along Highway 172.

Highway 172 is a major east-west road in the northern region of the state in Brown County, Wis., that averages about 85,000 vehicles a day and serves as the southern belt line around the Green Bay area, the state’s third largest city. The traffic on this highway serves both the local commuter traffic and regional traffic. The project includes segments of the village of Ashwaubenon, village of Allouez and village of Bellevue in Brown County. Completion of this $38 million highway project will prepare it to handle more traffic when upgrading of U.S. 41 begins in 2011.

Work on the Highway 172 project is scheduled for 2008 through 2010 to ensure that maintenance needs on this highway are minimized during the U.S. 41 construction. The project repairs and resurfaces the existing roadway from U.S. 41, on the western end of the project, to Interstate 43, on the eastern end of the project. The project also will replace the deck on the Fox River Bridge, replace the bridges over Oneida Street and rehabilitate nearly all bridges on the project, roughly 20.

Construction of Highway 172 began in September 2008 and is to be completed by September 2010. Project benchmarks include completing westbound lanes prior to August 2009, completing eastbound lanes prior to August 2010 and opening Oneida Street prior to July 15 in 2009 and 2010.

“When working on a rehabilitation project that is this large it is difficult to know how well things will go, but everything went well in 2009,” Van Hout said. “Everything was ahead of schedule or right on time.”

Dan Segerstrom, project manager of the Green Bay, Wis., area Department of Transportation added, “To make the compressed time frame work smoothly, a lot of detailed coordination was needed.

The 2009 portion of the project was done in halves so traffic was minimally affected, Van Hout said, without creating the need for an official detour. Much of the traffic found alternate routes, which kept the delays to a minimum. Lanes in both directions on the east end of the project are now completed, leaving the west end of the project for 2010.

Segerstrom explained that the project included widening some of the bridges in order to add auxiliary lanes. Highway 172 includes four to six lanes of traffic, which were repaired using concrete overlay. In the area next to the Packer stadium, a seventh auxiliary lane was added to help with traffic flow, Segerstrom said, and next year an additional lane will be added in that same area for the other half of the project.

The bridge over Oneida Street was removed and replaced to include an auxiliary lane at the location of the Packers stadium. Oneida was increased from four to six lanes. Oneida Street under the bridge also was widened for possible future expansion, Segerstrom added.

To aid in the safety of Highway 172, three crash investigation sites also were added to allow vehicles to move off the Freeway, assuming the cars are able to get to that point, Segerstrom said. The crash investigation sites include an exit ramp and a turnout area for the vehicles to get out of traffic.

For roadway work, shuttle buggies were used with the asphalt pavers. Trucks dump asphalt into the shuttle buggy, which feeds the material into the paver, so the trucks are not constantly bumping into the pavers and there is less segregation, resulting in a better ride, Van Hout explained.

On the Webster Street bridge over Highway 172, a microsilica overlay was used. Using the microsilica admixture created a higher cost for the contractor, but the process was quicker, to help ensure the fall deadline was met. Microsilica is denser and even though it is not used much in this region, it was chosen because it has a very high slump and low permeability while maintaining high strength; a higher slump means that the crown could be placed with a regular Bidwell, just one pour vs. two, Van Hout explained. It was used in only one portion of the project in order to test something new to this area; however, it has been used in other parts of the state. Microsilica is a little more finicky because it is more prone to early cracking, so finishing and curing was done more diligently, Van Hout added.

The bridge over the Fox River, is very large with each side being separate, but connected enough at the abutments to require traffic be stopped while concrete pours were done. The bridge was removed during the winter months to accelerate work during the summer; the same will happen this winter to prepare for construction of the second half of construction of the Fox River Bridge, Segerstrom added. Barges and tugs were used to help with debris collection, while removal of concrete was done with backhoes and loaders. About a half dozen cranes, up to 100 tons (90.7 t) in size, were used for bridge work and to help place barriers. Concrete on the Fox River Bridge was discharged from the existing adjoining bridge lane using two belt systems.

Work was done at night to ensure the least impact to traffic and workers. Working at night is relatively new to the Green Bay area. The focus, Segerstrom said, is on safety for the workers. The majority of the work, however, was done during the day, he explained, but some was done at night because of the divided highway so traffic could be moved to the other side. Ramp closures also were done at night to minimize public inconvenience.

Each side of the Fox River Bridge contains three lanes, so to ensure safety during construction, Segerstrom said they looked at using a moveable barrier to allow two lanes of traffic during the morning and during the evening traffic rushes but crews determined there wasn’t anything to warrant that. It was decided instead that there would be two lanes of traffic in one direction, and one lane in the other direction, during both summers of construction.

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