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Northwest Wisconsin under development

The Black River Falls Dam. Photo submitted by Mead and Hunt Inc.

The Black River Falls Dam. Photo submitted by Mead and Hunt Inc.

Project: Black River Falls Dam replacement
Owner: city of Black River Falls
Lead contractor: Hoffman Construction Co., Black River Falls
Lead contractor: Project was to go out for bid in December
Lead architect/engineer: Mead and Hunt Inc., Madison
Completion date: June 2011
Cost: $8.7 million
Location: Black River Falls
Project challenge: “You’ve got to build it in a river,” said Jerry Ewert, general manager of Black River Falls Municipal Utilities. “I don’t think there’s much more than that. It’s going to require stream diversion, temporary dams and access to the river.
Significance to northwest Wisconsin: “It’s going to create jobs, but it’s also going to offer hydroelectric power and a source of renewable energy,” Ewert said. “A big river running through it is the kind of resource most communities don’t have.”
Point of interest: The project’s scheduled 2011 completion will fall on the 100th anniversary of the construction of the original dam. “It’s got quite a history to it,” Ewert said. “The stories are that the first dam was built in winter — below zero every day — but they were still out there and got it done.”

Project: Grand River Station
Owner: city of La Crosse
Lead contractor: Market & Johnson Inc., Eau Claire
Lead architect/engineer: LSA Design Inc., Minneapolis
Completion date: fall 2010
Cost: $28 million
Location: La Crosse
Project challenge: “Multiple governments are involved,” said Tim Kabat, administrator in the city’s Department of Planning and Development. “You’ve got federal, state and city money going into the transit center and shell and then a private developer (Oregon-based Gorman & Co. Inc.) working on the apartments and retail. It’s a challenge.”
Significance to northwest Wisconsin: “I think the fact that we’ll have a transit center rather than just a little on-street site will improve service for riders,” Kabat said. “Then you add 92 units of living space and 12,500 square feet of retail, and it’s a great thing for downtown.”
Point of interest: The project has a green roof that will include grass, a playground for tenants’ children and artwork from artists living in the building.

A new academic building goes up on the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse campus Nov. 24. Photo by Wm. Glasheen

A new academic building goes up on the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse campus Nov. 24. Photo by Wm. Glasheen

Project: University of Wisconsin-La Crosse academic building
Owners: UW Board of Regents, state of Wisconsin
Lead contractor: C.D. Smith Construction Inc., Fond du Lac
Lead architect/engineer: River Architects Inc., La Crosse
Completion date: fall 2011
Cost: $38.4 million
Location: La Crosse
Project challenge: Even though favorable bids for various UW System projects let the state slice UW-La Crosse’s capital campaign goal for the project from $6 million to $3 million,
Chancellor Joe Gow said the university is at about $2.3 million and still needs a final push.
Significance to northwest Wisconsin: “We were just in the project and there were 41 people at work, so it’s incredible for job creation in the area,” Gow said. “It’s also the kind of project that will
enhance the university for years to come.”
Point of interest: The project will be the first building on a four-year campus in the UW System to earn silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Crews work on the Western Residence Hall project at Western Technical College in La Crosse on Nov. 24. Photo by Wm. Glasheen

Crews work on the Western Residence Hall project at Western Technical College in La Crosse on Nov. 24. Photo by Wm. Glasheen

Project: Western Residence Hall
Owner: Paul and Pauline’s Corner LLC, La Crosse
Lead contractor: C.D. Smith Construction Inc., Fond du Lac
Lead architectural/engineering firm: Millennium Architects & Designers Ltd., Green Bay
Completion date: August  2010
Cost: $9 million
Location: Western Technical College, La Crosse
Project challenge: “We’re working on a really tight site because we wanted to take advantage of open-air parking lot space,” said Mike Pieper, the college’s vice president of finance and operations. “This is a six-story building on a small site, and we literally have the construction fences right on the sidewalks.”
Significance to northwest Wisconsin: “We serve 10 counties in the western region, and the residence hall really helps the students that come in from the rural communities,” Pieper said. “Those students have higher retention rates and GPAs.”
Point of interest: The project spurred a bill in the state Capitol that would let technical colleges use student-living fees to help pay for construction of residence halls. State law currently does not give that authority to technical colleges.

The foundation of the West Well Field water-treatment plant in Chippewa Falls rises from the ground Nov. 23. Photo by Wm. Glasheen

The foundation of the West Well Field water-treatment plant in Chippewa Falls rises from the ground Nov. 23. Photo by Wm. Glasheen

Project: West Well Field water-treatment plant
Owner: city of Chippewa Falls
Lead contractor: Ghidorzi Construction Co. LLC, Wausau
Lead architect/engineer: Short-Elliott-Hendrickson Inc., St. Paul, Minn.
Completion date: July 2011
Cost: $2.3 million
Location: Chippewa Falls
Project challenge: The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources suspended construction for three weeks in November because of the project’s proximity to the Chippewa River and the project’s possible effect on three endangered species — the wood turtle, the purple wartyback mussel and the spectaclecase mussel. “It’s the first time we’ve had an endangered species review like this,” said Rick Rubenzer, the city’s director of public works and utility manager. “It’s been a real learning experience.”
Significance to northwest Wisconsin: “We’ve had concerns with the iron and manganese content in two of our wells,” Rubenzer said. “We still have clean water. These are minerals that just naturally occur, but this project will ease those concerns.”
Point of interest: In addition to the DNR review, the project also needed clearance from the Wisconsin Historical Society because part of the site is a burial ground.

Crews move dirt (above) for the Kwik Trip bakery expansion in La Crosse on Nov. 24. Spencer Hahn (right), of lead contractor Wieser Brothers General Contractor Inc., works on the site Nov. 24. Photos by Wm. Glasheen

Crews move dirt (above) for the Kwik Trip bakery expansion in La Crosse on Nov. 24. Spencer Hahn (right), of lead contractor Wieser Brothers General Contractor Inc., works on the site Nov. 24. Photos by Wm. Glasheen

Project: Kwik Trip bakery expansion

Owner: Kwik Trip Inc., La Crosse
Lead contractor: Wieser Brothers General Contractor Inc., La Crescent, Minn.
Lead architect/engineer: Excel Engineering Inc., Fond du Lac
Completion date: October 2010
Cost: $2 million
Location: La Crosse
Project challenge: “The challenge is in the coordination of new equipment with the building,” said Jeff Wieser, Wieser Brothers president. “We have to be sure the building will be adequate for new and future equipment used in the bakery.”
Significance to northwest Wisconsin: “Right now, it’s bringing jobs into the area,” Wieser said. “This area is like any right now in that there’s not a whole lot of work going on. Any time you have a company doing an expansion, it’s a good thing.”
Point of interest: The building is made of precast concrete. It’s a food processing plant, so it’s designed to be dust-free.

Project: Billings Park storm sewer and wet-detention basin
Owner: city of Superior
Lead contractor: RJS Construction Group LLC, Superior
Lead architects/engineers: city of Superior
Completion date: September 2011
Cost: $4.1 million
Location: Superior
Project challenge: “It’s putting a storm sewer in an area that’s already developed,” said Jonathan Maruska, an engineering technician for the city. “We’re trying to alleviate some of the backups of the old combined system, but we have to work around existing electric, water and transmission lines.”
Significance to northwest Wisconsin: “Updating a more than 100-year-old, combined-sewer system,” Maruska said. “The functionality has changed over the years, and, at the same time, we’re adding infrastructure for the future.”
Point of interest: The project is being paid for with federal stimulus money through the state’s clean water budget. If not for the stimulus money, Maruska said, the city would not have been able to afford the project for years.

Employees of River City Masonry Inc., La Crosse, work on the new Candlewood Suites Hotel in La Crosse on Nov. 24. Photo by Wm. Glasheen

Employees of River City Masonry Inc., La Crosse, work on the new Candlewood Suites Hotel in La Crosse on Nov. 24. Photo by Wm. Glasheen

Project: Candlewood Suites Hotel

Owner: NSD Hotel Associates LLC, La Crosse
Lead contractor: Borton Construction Inc., La Crosse
Lead architect/engineer: MBA Architects Inc., Holmen
Completion date: May 2010
Cost: $8.5 million
Location: La Crosse
Project challenge: “There was a lot of site remediation that had to be done before we even began,” said Dan Miller, Borton’s project manager. “It’s a brownfield site, so we had to do a lot of soil excavation, relocate overhead transmission lines and import 4 feet of fill before we could even get going. There’s also the added challenge of building through winter.”
Significance to northwest Wisconsin:
“It’s further redevelopment of downtown La Crosse,” Miller said. “It’s actually phase two of the five-phased Three Rivers development project, which is going to add mixed-use, retail, medical, office and residential space to the area.”
Point of interest: The structure is being panelized by Janesville-based Amwood Homes Inc. The company assembles the wall wood panels with studs, sheeting and windows built in. Borton then puts them up on site. “It’s like putting together a jigsaw puzzle,” Miller said.

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