City, county to coordinate construction schedules; road will remain open to traffic

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Construction on portions of the West Waukesha Bypass – a four-lane thoroughfare spanning the length of the city between Interstate 94 and Highway 59 – is scheduled to begin this spring, putting plans in motion after years of debate.

It has in some fashion been discussed for decades and was delayed until this year in December 2015. As a result of the construction, Merrill Hills and Meadowbrook roads, each two lanes wide, will be replaced and essentially double in size.

Not all of it will happen at once, however.

The roughly $50 million project will involve many months of roadwork designed to address growing local and regional traffic volumes, and enhance traffic flow and safety.

RELATED: West Waukesha Bypass tries to work its way around problems

The project, situated on Waukesha's west side, is a joint venture between the city, Waukesha County and the state Department of Transportation. Each jurisdiction will be responsible for a different portion of the bypass. The city and county portions of the project – roughly from Rolling Ridge Drive to Highway 18/Summit Avenue – will be constructed this year. Major work on the DOT's portion is scheduled to kickoff in 2018.

City portion

The city is responsible for funding, designing and constructing the bypass from its northern limit at Rolling Ridge to Northview Road. That section will be widened from a two-lane undivided roadway to a divided four-lane design.

According to City Project Manager Margaret Liedtke and city documents, Waukesha's portion of the project will cost around $5.5 million.

Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in May and last several months, Liedtke said.

The work will be completed in phases.

During the first phase, motorists will drive on existing pavement on the east side of the roadway while a contractor constructs the west side, Liedtke said.

Traffic will shift around the end of July to the newly constructed west side of the roadway.

"The Waukesha County and state (DOT) construction project will be following the same pattern – constructing the west side while keeping traffic on the east side on the existing lanes," she said.

Liedtke added that there will be interim short-term closures of some side roads during certain phases of the project.

County portion

Waukesha County will be operating under a similar time line, said Engineering Services Manager Gary Evans.

The county's portion of the work runs from Northview to Summit, and will cost about $10 million, he said.

The construction staging of the county's work is designed to match the city's to keep the roadway open to traffic, Evans added. The plan is to keep one lane of traffic in either direction (north and south) maintained at all times.

Evans predicted the work would take several months and conclude in "late fall."

He said that the project's duration was at least in part due to the necessity of maintaining traffic flow within the project's footprint.

At a public information meeting last April, the county announced one notable change to the configuration of its work. That change was the so-called rotated alignment of the bypass in the Pebble Creek area.

The change was made to address environmental concerns from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers. The revisions were intended to reduce wetland impacts by about two acres.

State portion

The state DOT will construct the segment from Summit Avenue to Highway 59, said DOT's Regional Communication Manager Mike Pyritz.

Pyrtiz said that the DOT's work on the southern leg of the project – from Highway 18/Summit Avenue to Highway 59 – will begin in earnest next year.

Some work on that stretch is scheduled to begin in late 2017, but Pyritz said that will primarily involve utility relocation.

He said the DOT's portion of the project will cost around $30 million.

Bypass info

To reach a specific representative contact:

  • Doug Cain, DOT, at 262-548-5603 or douglas.cain@dot.wi.gov
  • Gary Evans, Waukesha County, at 262-548-7746 or gevans@waukeshacounty.gov
  • Margaret Liedtke, city of Waukesha, at mliedtke@ci.waukesha.wi.us
  • For information on the full scope of the project, visit waukeshabypass.org.
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