MONROE — The road construction project that has overhauled Wis. 11 and its bypasses that started last year and was delayed — and then pushed through the winter — is finished.
Fehr Graham Senior Engineering Technician Ken Plowman said workers will still be seen on site for the next few days as general cleanup and debris removal is finished. All traffic lanes were opened as of May 18.
The general layout didn’t change; however, drivers will notice much smoother roadways as they travel. Lanes and roadways were “completely deteriorated,” Plowman said. The Wis. 81 westbound off ramp used to see traffic back up periodically, but the project included a turn lane that will help make things quicker during peak traffic times, Plowman said.
The overhaul of nearly six miles on Wis. 11 began in late March of 2019 for the reconstruction of the highway and its bypasses. The project addressed the deteriorating concrete and poor ride quality between Wis. 81 and Hiltbrand Lane and included work on ramps at Wis. 11, 69 and 59. Work took place to improve the intersections with County KK, Stauffacher Road, Richland Road and Hiltbrand Road.
Plowman said they hoped to complete the project a few weeks prior, but scheduling issues from subcontractors postponed a few things along with some minor weather issues. He said the global pandemic due to COVID-19 did not impact the project, although workers took precautions in place following guidelines from the CDC.
“Ultimately, even though the project was supposed to be done last year, everyone involved feels that we ended up with a quality of roadway that will last for years,” Plowman said.
He said there were no major hiccups in the final stretch. The project was postponed last October, when unexpected snow and cold temperatures caused the project to halt until spring.
The Green County Sheriff’s Office posted on its Facebook page May 18 announcing the project’s completion, as well as several of the same messages, announcing: “THE SPEED LIMIT IS 55 MPH AND WILL BE ENFORCED.”
Sheriff Jeff Skatrud said that although the post was somewhat done in fun, it was also meant to “drive the point home” so people are reminded that the speed limit on the four-lane stretch is still 55 miles per hour. He said it’s well marked with signage.
Citations were written regularly for people driving in the 80-mile-per hour range during the project, Skatrud said, and there are concerns that faster driving will continue with the new, smoother pavement. Enforcement wasn’t increased in the area, but “deputies took it upon themselves to pay extra attention” to drivers in the work zone, Skatrud said.
“I’m glad to see it done,” Skatrud said. “We didn’t have many crashes but drivers were confused with directions.”
Plowman said they didn’t see traffic issues having an effect on construction, and also didn’t see a decrease in traffic despite orders to stay at home due to the coronavirus.
Now that the Wis. 11 project is complete, Plowman is focused on others projects not so far away on Wisconsin 59 and Wisconsin 81. Wis. 59 is closed around Wis. 11 for the time being as new pavement and reconstruction started on Wis. 59/6th Street between 28th Avenue and Weiss Lane, which will close down all four ramps at Wis. 11/81 and Wis. 59 for the duration of the project. Workers will be removing the old pavement, as well as the base underneath it, and taking the road down to dirt before reconstructing it, Plowman said.
Wis. 81 is closed from just north of the Wis. 11 westbound ramps up to County N. Signs will direct traffic to detour routes on County N and County DR. In addition, Wis. 81 from County N to Argyle will be repaved this summer starting June 8, however, the highway is expected to stay open with flaggers directing traffic while the work is being done.
Plowman said those projects are expected to be finished in mid-August.