Monday will mark the official start of a project meant to better accommodate expected Foxconn traffic by rebuilding and moving a pair of frontage roads along Interstate 94 in Racine County.
Passersby, though, aren’t likely to see much of a difference for at least a couple of weeks, says the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
Construction crews are scheduled to start work Monday on a project to rebuild the east and west frontage roads found alongside a stretch of I-94 running between County Highway KR and Highway 20. The affected roadways will start to be shut down on Wednesday, said Mike Pyritz, a spokesman with WisDOT. Initially, the project will entail mostly grading, clearing, grubbing and erosion-control work. Utility relocations are already underway and should wrap up within the next couple of weeks, Pyritz said.
The project is not expected to interfere with traffic on a nearby section of Highway 11, save for preventing vehicles that are traveling that stretch from being able to use the frontage roads, Pyritz said. Local traffic will still be able to get to nearby properties and businesses.
The work on the I-94 frontage roads is the result of a $12.7 million contract WisDOT officials recently awarded to the roadbuilding contractor Hoffman Construction. Jim Hoffman, president of the Black River Falls-based company, said he’s well aware the recent spate of cold weather could make progress difficult.
Even though daily high temperatures were expected to rise out of the single digits next week, Hoffman said his crews will be talking on Monday about how they can prevent winter conditions from derailing the work. He said the project’s schedule is unusually aggressive, calling for the work to wrap up by summer.
“We are basically accelerating a full construction season into the next few months,” he said.
Hoffman said one of the hardest parts of the job, if the weather remains cold, will be moving utilities and putting storm sewers in place before the road work starts. To keep things moving, crews plan to recycle as much of the highways materials making up the current frontage road as they can.
According to a news release from Hoffman Construction, the project will require the excavation of 240,000 cubic yards and the use of 240,000 tons of aggregate base and more than 50,000 tons of asphalt.
The expansion plans for I-94 are technically separate from the $10 billion factory that Foxconn Technology Group is building in Mount Pleasant. Even so, state officials contend I-94 will have to be wider between College Avenue, in Milwaukee, and State Highway 142, near Kenosha, to accommodate the additional traffic that is expected to be traveling to and from the 20 million-square-foot Foxconn factory after it opens.
The interstate-expansion work is divided into three parts. Work on a northern segment, widening a 7.5-mile stretch running from College Avenue to County Highway G, is expected to get underway in August and wrap up in December 2021. Work on the remaining two parts, adding lanes to a 4.5-mile stretch between Bell and Kraut roads and a 6.5-mile southern stretch reaching to Highway 142, will start in June and finish up by the end of 2020.
Other parts of I-94 have already been expanded. WisDOT in fact has been working for years – well before Foxconn was even a consideration – on plans to add lanes to I-94 between Milwaukee’s Mitchell Interchange to the Wisconsin-Illinois state line.Follow @alexzank