Highway 18 will be widened to four lanes in Bridgeport in 2016

A group of citizens analyze a map of the proposed Highway 18 improvement project during an informational meeting Thursday evening at the Bridgeport Fire Station. The project is for the section of Highway 18 from South Town Lane to Highway 60 in the town of Bridgeport.

By Ted Pennekamp

Approximately 35 people attended a public information meeting Thursday evening at the Bridgeport Fire Station to learn about the proposed improvements to Highway 18 from South Town Lane to Highway 60.

Project Manager Jeremy Krachey, a civil engineer with the Department of Transportation, said that CBS Squared Inc. of Chippewa Falls is conducting the design of the project. The project will widen Highway 18 to a four-lane divided roadway between South Town Lane and Highway 60. The roadway’s median between South Town Lane and Ward Road will consist of a 30-foot-wide raised curb median and there will be a 45-mph speed limit. The median between Ward Road and Highway 60 will have a 50-foot-wide grass ditch median and the speed limit will be 55 mph.

There will be a transition from a four-lane divided roadway to a two-lane undivided roadway before the Wisconsin River Bridge. Also, the intersection of Highway 18 and Highway 60 will be improved with an upgrade of the existing geometrics, according to Brian Smits, an engineer with CBS Squared. One improvement will be to make the intersection closer to a 90-degree angle for better visibility for motorists. Krachey said that about 1,000 feet of Highway 60 will be improved as well.

Smits said that the reasons for the project are because the Highway 18 pavement is in fair condition, traffic has increased, there are a lack of turn lanes, and too many access points, such as driveways leading directly to the highway. Smits noted that a reduction of access points, along with the many other improvements, will make the highway much safer.

Other elements of the project include:

•Replacing and/or extending box culverts

•Reducing side road access points by realigning and combining various side roads before connecting to Highway 18.

•Reducing driveway access points where feasible by realigning and connecting to side roads or new frontage roads.

The construction is scheduled for the spring of 2016. Smits said that Highway 18 will be open to traffic during construction, which will be done in stages.

Smits said that Thursday evening’s meeting was an initial conceptual meeting. He said that 30 percent of the conceptual design plans will be completed by September of 2013. A second public information meeting will be held in the winter of 2014. Sixty percent of the conceptual design plans will have been completed by the time of the second meeting and more details and right-of-way impacts will be known. A third public information meeting will be held in the winter of 2015 and will focus more on traffic impacts.

Smits said that construction will run from April of 2016 to November of 2016. Construction of the project is estimated to cost between $11 million and $13 million.

Temporary access to businesses and residences within the project corridor will be provided and maintained during construction. Driveways will need to be closed when they are being reconstructed. Properties with multiple driveways will have at least one driveway open at all times. Properties with one driveway will have their driveways constructed in stages half at a time or a temporary driveway will be provided.

Regarding rainfall and runoff, Smits said that a hydraulic analysis will be completed and that the project will be designed for a 50-year event. In addition to replacing or extending culverts, the capacity of ditches will also be increased. No “holding ponds” have been planned.

Many people talked to engineers and DOT personal individually following the presentation. Also, two large maps of the project area drew a good deal of attention.

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