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Week in Review

Dishing dirt

It costs a lot of money to truck around roughly 600,000
cubic yards of dirt.

It costs even more if the dirt has a price tag.

The
city of Milwaukee and state Department of Transportation found a way to save taxpayers
some soil expenses by trading dirt.

Dave Misky, land development coordinator
for the Milwaukee Department of City Development, said it was all a matter of
timing. The city noticed that WisDOT’s Marquette Interchange reconstruction
would require excavation of tons of dirt that would have to be carted out of Milwaukee
to a dumping ground. At the same time, the city was trying to acquire CMC Heartland’s
Menomonee Valley property for redevelopment into a business park. However, because
of contamination on the site, the property would require 600,000 cubic yards of
clean fill before anybody built on it.

“It was all based on timing
— the need that the city had and the need the DOT had to get rid of fill,”
Misky said. “The Marquette Interchange project started about the time we
were looking for fill. It was a perfect match.”

So the city and WisDOT
inked a deal for 600,000 cubic yards, which represents the vast majority of dirt
the interchange reconstruction will produce, said Paul Boersma, associate vice
president at HNTB Corp., which teamed with CH2M Hill to form the Milwaukee Transportation
Partners, the Marquette Interchange project engineer.

Edgerton Contractors,
Oak Creek, is working on both the Marquette and Menomonee Valley projects, and
will handle the hauling duties.

The cooperation agreement means Edgerton
has a 5-mile trip between sites, instead of the 10- to 15-mile jaunt to a suburban
fill site. Misky said the deal also saved the city project from potential delivery
delays caused by the interchange reconstruction.

“We certainly could
have imported fill from other sites, but the time and logistics of that would’ve
been tremendous,” he said.

Volunteers rebuild together

More
than 500 volunteers fixed up 14 Milwaukee houses last weekend to make them more
accessible to their senior or disabled owners.

“Our main goal is that
they can remain in their home safely and can remain as independent as possible,”
said Nicole Hermann, director and administrator of the Rebuilding Together Greater
Milwaukee organization.

The group is a local chapter of a national program
that also has branches in Appleton, Green Bay and Manitowoc. This is Rebuilding
Together’s fifth year in Milwaukee, and so far it has renovated more than
30 houses to the tune of $228,200.

Hermann said 2005’s weekend event
was its largest ever. About 13 local companies signed up to sponsor a house, each
providing a crew of volunteer employees to work on Saturday.

“We asked
them to provide 15 to 20 volunteers on building day, but they often give us 20
to 30,” Hermann said.

Volunteer building inspectors and therapists
from Milwaukee Home Inspection, which Hermann works for, and the Wisconsin Association
of Home Inspectors review each house before building day to find ways to make
them more accessible to their owner. Common modifications include installing bathtub
and stairway hand rails, additional electrical outlets and simple aesthetic improvements
such as painting.

This year’s most extensive work involved reconstructing
a kitchen so the cabinetry, sink and counters were easier to reach.

Rebuilding
Together’s main sponsors include The Forest County Potawatomi Community Foundation,
Waukesha County Community Foundation and Wauwatosa Savings Bank, Jane Bradley
Pettit Foundation, Home Depot, Guaranty Bank, Johnson Bank and the Wisconsin Housing
and Economic Development Authority.

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