The state and its contractor have a $15.3 million deal in place for emergency repairs to the Zoo Interchange, clearing the way for design work on three new bridges.
The project calls for Milwaukee Constructors LLC, the joint venture that won the contract, to replace three bridges in the Milwaukee County interchange by May 24 while keeping lane closures to a minimum. To satisfy the contract requirements, the joint venture will build new bridges that will be parallel to the existing structures.
Paul Trombino, Wisconsin Department of Transportation division operations director, said the construction team will use traditional bridge-building methods, “except accelerated significantly.”
Traffic will flow on the current bridges as Milwaukee Constructors builds the new spans. When the new bridges are complete, the construction team will direct traffic onto the new lanes and demolish the existing spans.
“We have a good plan,” Trombino said. “Obviously, we have a good partnership with the contractors, and I think we’re very confident.”
Bridge inspections on the Zoo Interchange this year revealed three bridges were damaged and needed emergency repairs. WisDOT put the repair project out to bid Nov. 19.
Interested contractors were given multiple options for how to complete the project, including building new bridges. Another option was to demolish and replace just the damaged portions of the three bridges, essentially replacing those spans within the existing interchange structure.
Milwaukee Constructors offered the only bid for the project. The emergency repair job was estimated between $12 million and $22 million.
With the construction team opting to build new bridges beyond the existing interchange framework, the next step is to design the three new spans, Trombino said. WisDOT usually completes plans before bidding work, but this repair contract requires the state work with its contractors to design bridges to satisfy the plan, he said.
Trombino said the design work can be done concurrently with earthwork around the interchange. Giles Engineering Associates Inc., Waukesha, has spent the past month conducting soil-boring tests around the interchange and will help plan the new bridges, he said.
Crews will start to mobilize around the interchange the week of Jan. 4, Trombino said, and there will be one weekend lane closure in the interchange during the month.
Milwaukee Constructors is comprised of Edward Kraemer & Sons Inc., Plain; Lunda Construction Co., Black River Falls; and Zenith Tech Inc., Waukesha. The companies submitted their construction plan Nov. 30 and on Dec. 23 settled on contract terms with WisDOT, Trombino said.
Representatives from the three companies were not available for comment.
Drivers will experience only a minor change when passing through the interchange after the project is complete, Trombino said. The footprint of the new bridges will be close to the old.
“It’ll probably feel the same,” he said. “They’re really going to be pretty tight up.”