Wisconsin DOT Opens Massive Interchange Project Ahead of Schedule

AASHTO Journal, 16 November 2012

Wisconsin Department of Transportation celebrated the completion of a huge interchange project in Milwaukee last Friday. The celebration came early, as WisDOT was able to open up the interchange more than a month ahead of schedule.

Planning for the new Mitchell Interchange in Milwaukee began after WisDOT determined that the Interstate 94 North-South freeway was aging and needed attention. The roadway was first built in the late 1950s and early 1960s, so safety issues, pavement and design deficiencies, and traffic congestion had become problems over the years for the approximately 195,000 vehicles that travel the Mitchell Interchange each day. WisDOT decided a full redesign and reconstruction of the corridor was necessary, especially to allow for future growth.

The massive $300 million project began in 2008, constructing a new and modern interstate on I-94/I-43 between College Avenue and Howard Avenue. The project included the construction of three new tunnels, 51 bridges, 50 retaining walls, and 17 noise walls. The project was so enormous it included 300,000 tons of asphalt, 12,000 tons of steel, 13 miles of bridge girders, and 17 miles of storm sewer. The project is part of a larger $1.9 billion project to expand and modernize 35 miles of interstate.

WisDOT partnered with HNTB and CH2M HILL to design the interchange, and many changes were made to make the project more cost effective, including the use of cut-and-cover tunnels instead of using highly skewed bridges. The entire project was built in 29 contracts, which were defined years in advance, all of which allowed the interchange project to stay ahead of schedule.

The completion of the extensive project was celebrated last Friday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The Mitchell Interchange opened more than a month ahead of schedule, allowing drivers to experience all the benefits associated with the modern system including less congestion resulting in faster travel times and increased safety on the roadways.

“This is an exciting day, as we hold this ribbon-cutting ceremony to announce the completion of the Mitchell Interchange Reconstruction Project,” said WisDOT Secretary Mark Gottlieb at the event. “This transportation—as with so many others—is important to the business of the state by enhancing smooth transportation flow benefiting commerce, tourism, and daily travel for our residents. With the opening of this interchange, not only will freight and traffic move smoothly, but access to local businesses will be better.”

More information on the Mitchell Interchange Project is available at plan94.org.

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