Mobility, Safety Improvements Benefit Wisconsin Metros

Awards, Projects | October 29, 2021


MILWAUKEE AND WAUKESHA, WI — Mobility and safety are dramatically improved in two high-traffic Southeastern Wisconsin metros thanks to the completion of two major, much-needed transportation projects. The successful completion of the Wells Street Bridge Rehabilitation in Milwaukee and the West Waukesha Bypass near Waukesha not only resolved major safety and congestion issues, but drew industry award accolades as well, both earning State Finalist project honors from ACEC-WI in October.

West Waukesha Bypass

After decades of compounding traffic congestion issues from Highway 59 and Highway 164 to Interstate 94, the West Waukesha Bypass aimed to resolve the problem by connecting State Trunk Highway (STH) 59 at the south to STH 18 at the north. The project, which involved a drastic reroute of STH 59 to skirt the western edges of the City of Waukesha, transformed area mobility for numerous residents, businesses, a large high school and more.

As the construction management lead on this project, Benesch played a key role in overseeing the project’s successful completion, from weekly progress meetings and public involvement to environmental protections, concrete testing, aggregate sampling and more.

“Because the new roadway traversed existing wetlands, forest and farm fields, it required an enormous amount of excavation including marsh and subgrade soils,” said Benesch Project Manager Brad Bacilek. “Over 370,000 tons of select fill material were also required to build the new alignment through these unstable areas.”

The new alignment incorporated six new bridge structures and replaced an existing bridge with new twin bridges on a connecting county highway. Given the environmentally sensitive wetlands and fens in the project footprint, the new bridges were critical by spanning across those areas. Other structures included multiple retaining, MSE, and post and panel walls, as well as two box culverts – one of which carries a trail beneath the new roadway.

The West Waukesha Bypass provides a much needed connection between State Trunk Highway (STH) 59 and STH 18. Learn more about the project here.

Wells Street Bridge Rehabilitation

The Wells Street Bridge is one of most used crossings over the Milwaukee River in downtown Milwaukee, WI. Over the years, it became severely deteriorated and not only posed as a safety hazard but required a much-needed aesthetic update. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the City of Milwaukee opted to rehabilitate the structure, which required proper sizing, fit and installation of rehabilitated structural machinery components to ensure proper functioning, sustainability and safety.

This massive endeavor also entailed the application of innovative engineering techniques to rehabilitate the structural, mechanical, electrical and hydraulic systems. “The unique application of machining and modifying certain components, rather than replacing with new parts, reduced potential costs and production lead times,” said Benesch Project Manager Bill Zippel.

As Construction Manager, Benesch ensured the project met requirements and sustainability goals by shifting the project schedule to allow construction to take place during the off-season to prevent impacts. In addition, to mitigate impacts to the waterway and natural environment, the removal and replacement of corroded structural steel and sand blasting were successfully managed by using a large containment enclosure with a special pressure vacuum system to keep debris and material contained. Abrasive recycling was also used to prevent paint from contaminating the river below.

This innovative rehabilitation not only extended the life of the structure, but provided a safer, more visually appealing crossing for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike.

lift bridge over the water

The rehabilitation of the Wells Street lift bridge ensures a safer crossing for Milwaukee visitors and residents alike in the city’s downtown area. Learn more about the project here.