Travelers on the Beltline Highway may want to consider alternate routes this summer. Bridge maintenance on the Yahara Bridge will begin May 6.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DoT) is performing the construction, which is anticipated in September.
“We are expecting to fix the expansion joints on those long bridges,” said Brenda Schoenfeld, project supervisor with the DoT. Each bridge has 10 metal joints that have helped the concrete expand and contract during temperature changes.
The joints have been in place since the bridge was constructed 25 years ago.
“We need to remove and replace them,” Schoenfeld said. “There will be some significant work out there this summer.”
Three lanes of traffic will be open between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m. on weekdays during construction; however, traffic lanes will be shifted to accommodate the work.
Beginning May 6, the shoulders and median of the bridge system will be strengthened in order to handle traffic driving on them.
“We’ll be moving traffic from one bridge to the other, creating a crossover,” Schoenfeld said. For example, the left lane of traffic on the eastbound bridge will be crossed over to the westbound bridge. The three westbound lanes will be narrowed and shifted to accommodate the additional lane on that bridge.
There will be four lanes of traffic on one bridge and two lanes of traffic on the other.
“That gives us half of the bridge to work on,” Schoenfeld said. “It’s unique, we haven’t done it before. We’re doing it to keep lanes of traffic during the day.”
Schoenfeld said there would still be delays and backups throughout construction, but no lanes will be closed during daylight hours on weekdays.
“We’ll do the westbound bridge right lanes, and then the middle and median [of the same bridge], and then switch to the next bridge,” Schoenfeld said. “This type of traffic arrangement will be done four times.”
Lane closures will occur at night, and after 10 p.m., traffic may be restricted to one lane in one direction.
In preparation, the DoT has contracted a tow truck specifically for this project. The truck will be dedicated to remove stranded or disabled vehicles in the construction area.
“We are bringing in additional tow trucks to remove any accidents and we are contracting with the state patrol to increase their presence in this area,” Schoenfeld said. “Doing emergency response with state patrol and additional tow truck help for stranded or disabled vehicles.”
The westbound ramp off of Monona Drive will be closed for the duration of the project, as will the eastbound ramp off of South Towne Drive. Detour signs will be posted and motorists will be taken to Broadway.
“We’re working with Dane County and Madison to improve the traffic signals on Broadway to handle the additional traffic,” Schoenfeld said.
During the second half of the project, the east bound ramp off of Monona Drive will be closed; however, the specific times for that closure are not known yet.
“Our strongest statement is to plan ahead and expect to see delays in the construction area,” Schoenfeld said. “We will have the lanes open to the best of our ability.”
Schoenfeld said if motorists can take an alternate route, they should do so.
“It’s a tough situation. There aren’t a lot of alternate routes other than Broadway,” Schoenfeld said. “We’re trying to get the message out ahead of time before the lane shifts. We’re working with Monona EMS and Dane County Sheriff. We understand the importance of this route and we want to work with our partners in the city and county to make this as successful as possible and hope the repairs will keep this bridge working and valuable for a long time.”
For additional information or concerns, contact Brenda Schoenfeld at 608-246-5406, or Curt Neuhauser, P.E., WisDOT Project Manager, at (608) 245-2676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/projects/swregion/1218/index.htm for additional information.