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Author Topic: Wausau's freeway (WI29 and US51)  (Read 17239 times)

SSOWorld

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Wausau's freeway (WI29 and US51)
« on: December 20, 2010, 10:07:17 AM »

This construction project expanded the highway to 3 lanes each direction for the concurrent part.  It also widened the gaps of interchanges/roads crossing it at Bridge Street, Stewart Ave, Sherman St, CTH NN, and CTH N.  It finally constructed flyover interchanges for the ends of the concurrency and removed the two loop ramps involved in both.  The two routes now share a free-flow system without stoplights or tight turns that have caused accidents (like a semi carrying cows tipping over transitioning from US51 South to WIS 29 East.)  

The project was completed this December - the last piece being the EB 29 to NB 51 ramp.  It displaced several businesses - including a Menards (which I imagine wanted a new building anyway)

It also provided for alternate routes on both sides on the freeway (Hummingbird road on the west, CTH N/17th Ave on the right.

The info and maps are at http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/projects/d4/us51wis29/index.htm - which WisDOT stopped updating in November for obvious reasons.

The big thing about the new freeway is that before the upgrade the highways were set at 55 mph (WI 29 from WIS 107 to Business 51 and US 51 from WI 29 East to CTH K/51 Business)  As the parts were completed, the 55 became 65, now there are no portions of either highway that are below 65 mph speed limits - even in the rapid fire interchange section around the 51/29 West split (29, Sherman, 52 and Bridge). One exception is the "chicken lane" portion of WI 29 between Marathon City and 72nd Ave.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2010, 01:40:13 PM by Master son »
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SEWIGuy

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Re: Wausau's freeway (WI29 and US51)
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2010, 12:18:42 PM »

So will the I-39 designation be extended further north along US-51?  Right now it ends at the southern interchange with WI-29.
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SSOWorld

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Re: Wausau's freeway (WI29 and US51)
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2010, 01:39:36 PM »

I don't think so.  That would have to go through approval processes and would be a "useless concurrency".  I highly doubt WisDOT will submit an application to FHWA and if it did, I seriously doubt FHWA will approve it.
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Re: Wausau's freeway (WI29 and US51)
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2010, 01:09:59 AM »

I don't know how an interstate, that already doesn't end at another interstate, now has further interstate-standard freeway beyond it, should be extended further and overtake the US51 route as the primary designation.
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Re: Wausau's freeway (WI29 and US51)
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2010, 10:22:20 AM »

Technically, one could make an argument for extending I-39 up to WI 29 West, and WisDOT could request it and likely get FHWA approval if it really wanted to.  The rationale being that it's a logical termini...both being closer to central Wausau and with WI 29 West being a major NHS corridor (I know Jake hates this, but it's written into FHWA policy).
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triplemultiplex

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Re: Wausau's freeway (WI29 and US51)
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2010, 11:33:56 AM »

I say do the freeway conversion between Merrill and Tomahawk and then extend I-39 all the way to US 8 rather than just tack on a couple miles.
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SSOWorld

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Re: Wausau's freeway (WI29 and US51)
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2010, 08:41:40 PM »

Will not work either - FHWA rules say end at a major highway - 8 is not major.


Careful here guys - I don't want this turning into a fictional highway thread.
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Scott O.

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Brandon

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Re: Wausau's freeway (WI29 and US51)
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2010, 11:05:19 PM »

I say do the freeway conversion between Merrill and Tomahawk and then extend I-39 all the way to US 8 rather than just tack on a couple miles.

There's a fair number of grade crossings between Merrill and Tomahawk.  Does anyone know if WisDOT is intending to extend this to Minocqua or Hurley eventually?
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Re: Wausau's freeway (WI29 and US51)
« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2010, 08:14:08 AM »

Quote
Will not work either - FHWA rules say end at a major highway - 8 is not major.

Actually, it is as far as FHWA is concerned...8 is NHS, so that fits with FHWA policy.  But you'd still have to address the at-grade crossings that Brandon mentioned.
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SEWIGuy

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Re: Wausau's freeway (WI29 and US51)
« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2010, 10:04:20 AM »

http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/projects/state/docs/corridor-wiriver2.pdf

According to this document, the long term goal (2020-2030) is to convert US-51 to full freeway between Lincoln County K (north side of Merrill) to Lincoln County S (south side of Tomahawk).  It is freeway south of here (not sure if it is full-interstate compatible between Merrill and Wausau) and is interstate compatible freeway north of here to US-8.

North of US-8 to Minoqua, the only goal is to develop a corridor plan.
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mgk920

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Re: Wausau's freeway (WI29 and US51)
« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2010, 10:42:41 AM »

Back in the 1960s, there were active plans to extend the full interstate compatible US 51 freeway all the way to that trumpet interchange at US 2 at Hurley.  Just like with US 53 at Haugen, the highly-engineered plans changed as finances became tighter and the enviro-wackos became more active and that originally laid out US 51 freeway routing was developed only as far north as the Irma area - the original plan was to continue the freeway across old US 51 where it now curves northward, instead curving northward a few hundred meters to the east.  OTOH, I believe that the current US 51 Tomahawk bypass up to where it rejoins 'old' US 51 north of US 8 is on that originally-planned routing.

Also, that part between Merrill and Irma has only two at-grade intersections - both can be easily bridged and maybe an interchange installed.

Mike
« Last Edit: December 22, 2010, 10:44:23 AM by mgk920 »
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SEWIGuy

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Re: Wausau's freeway (WI29 and US51)
« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2010, 10:56:13 AM »

But unlike US-53, which provides access to a moderate sized metropolitan area (Duluth / Superior), US-51 really doesn't provide access to much of anything.  South of Minoqua, the two lane stretch is busy on summer weekends, but isn't at all busy otherwise, and north of Minoqua the two lanes is more than adequate to handle traffic.  My guess is that they will eventually put in a four lane expressway between US-8 and Minoqua, and leave the rest of the corridor at two lanes.
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triplemultiplex

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Re: Wausau's freeway (WI29 and US51)
« Reply #12 on: December 22, 2010, 05:37:38 PM »

WisDOT has the r/w for an interchange at the north end of CTH K just south of Irma:
http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=45.33875,-89.66118&z=15&t=S&marker0=45.35139%2C-89.66639%2Cirma\%2C%20wi

They also have the r/w for a frontage road on the west side of US 51 between Irma and the southern end of the the current frontage road that drops south from CTH S.

This leaves:
North Star Rd/CTH C (overpass)
Lincoln Dr. (overpass)
CTH J (overpass south of current alignment)
CTH V (cul-de-sac & demote to town road)
A frontage road on the east side of the highway will not be necessary.

As we can see, it's a very upgradeable facility.

Between US 8 & Minocqua, WisDOT recently added more passing lanes and they seem adequate when I have traveled this highway on summer weekends.  North of Woodruff, 51 will never need more capacity.  There are enough passing lanes.
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triplemultiplex

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Re: Wausau's freeway (WI29 and US51)
« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2011, 05:24:02 PM »

More freeway construction in Wausau this summer as WisDOT replaces the NB bridge over Bus US 51 and the Foxglove Rd overpass just north of the river.  They will also rebuild the interchange with Maple Ridge Rd this year in Kronenwetter.  With these projects, the last sub-standard vertical clearance on US 51 will be at Marathon CTH U and that will be dealt with in 2013.  WisDOT is rightfully looking to simplify the Bus US 51/CTH K interchange as part of that project:
ftp://ftp.dot.state.wi.us/transp/projects/51u-kbus51/51u-kbus51ea.pdf
(link might take a while to generate that download options window; it does for me)

The first option is the one I like.  A straight diamond at Bus 51/CTH K and extend that n-s arterial street to the west of the freeway up to CTH K.
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triplemultiplex

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Re: Wausau's freeway (WI29 and US51)
« Reply #14 on: February 16, 2012, 06:19:29 PM »

Some news on US 51 in the Merrill area.  Seems WisDOT is putting in an overpass at North Star Rd/CTH C in 2013:
http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/opencms/export/nr/modules/news/news_3157.html_786229440.html

Quote
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is conducting a public meeting to provide information regarding the planned construction of an overpass at the US 51/Lincoln County C/North Star Road intersection. The new overpass will carry Lincoln County C and North Star Road traffic over US 51.
Construction is scheduled to begin in spring 2013.

This is the first at-grade intersection north of Merrill and has a small gas station in the southwest quadrant that is likely responsible for most of the traffic that has made the intersection dangerous.
This is also the same vicinity where a tornado crossed US 51 last spring.
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mgk920

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Re: Wausau's freeway (WI29 and US51)
« Reply #15 on: February 16, 2012, 09:05:05 PM »

Some news on US 51 in the Merrill area.  Seems WisDOT is putting in an overpass at North Star Rd/CTH C in 2013:
http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/opencms/export/nr/modules/news/news_3157.html_786229440.html

Quote
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is conducting a public meeting to provide information regarding the planned construction of an overpass at the US 51/Lincoln County C/North Star Road intersection. The new overpass will carry Lincoln County C and North Star Road traffic over US 51.
Construction is scheduled to begin in spring 2013.

This is the first at-grade intersection north of Merrill and has a small gas station in the southwest quadrant that is likely responsible for most of the traffic that has made the intersection dangerous.
This is also the same vicinity where a tornado crossed US 51 last spring.

I'm a bit surprised that WisDOT isn't eliminating the next intersection to the north at this time as well, doing so would extend the I-39/US 51 freeway a significant distance to the north, most of the way to Tomahawk.

Mike
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SEWIGuy

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Re: Wausau's freeway (WI29 and US51)
« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2012, 11:32:43 AM »

I haven't been up there in awhile...have they extended I-39 through Wausau?
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triplemultiplex

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Re: Wausau's freeway (WI29 and US51)
« Reply #17 on: February 17, 2012, 06:24:20 PM »

I haven't been up there in awhile...have they extended I-39 through Wausau?
Nope.  Still ends at WI 29 east.
The newly rebuilt US 51 through Wausau is certainly deserving, physically.  But I don't want to get too fictional.  (cough)(extend I-39 to US 8)(cough, cough)
« Last Edit: February 17, 2012, 06:32:32 PM by Steve »
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SSOWorld

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Re: Wausau's freeway (WI29 and US51)
« Reply #18 on: February 20, 2012, 09:26:23 AM »

Some news on US 51 in the Merrill area.  Seems WisDOT is putting in an overpass at North Star Rd/CTH C in 2013:
http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/opencms/export/nr/modules/news/news_3157.html_786229440.html

Quote
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is conducting a public meeting to provide information regarding the planned construction of an overpass at the US 51/Lincoln County C/North Star Road intersection. The new overpass will carry Lincoln County C and North Star Road traffic over US 51.
Construction is scheduled to begin in spring 2013.

This is the first at-grade intersection north of Merrill and has a small gas station in the southwest quadrant that is likely responsible for most of the traffic that has made the intersection dangerous.
This is also the same vicinity where a tornado crossed US 51 last spring.

I'm a bit surprised that WisDOT isn't eliminating the next intersection to the north at this time as well, doing so would extend the I-39/US 51 freeway a significant distance to the north, most of the way to Tomahawk.

Mike
If you're talking about Lincoln Drive, so am I.  I'm surprised to begin with that they are considering this interchange.

There are more than these two along the route - K and J and V in Irma township, Tamarack Rd and a crossing to a home just north of V (Would definitely be eliminated in favor of a frontage road).
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Scott O.

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triplemultiplex

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Re: Wausau's freeway (WI29 and US51)
« Reply #19 on: February 20, 2012, 06:08:13 PM »

I'm surprised to begin with that they are considering this interchange.

Overpass.
It's all because of that gas station I mentioned.  Without it, there never would have been a safety issue to justify an overpass.  And once it's done, that gas station is history.  So the end result is a nice new overpass with little traffic.
Fine with me though.  I've lamented the construction of that gas station from the very beginning and I was just a teenager at the time.  I can say I've had a few fairly close calls over the years at this intersection.  For many travelers, this is the first grade crossing they've encountered for hundreds of miles and wouldn't you know it, there's a filling station where gas is usually 2-3 cents less per gallon.

There are more than these two along the route - K and J and V in Irma township, Tamarack Rd and a crossing to a home just north of V (Would definitely be eliminated in favor of a frontage road).
Seems to me the likely outcome at CTH V would be to close the intersection and revert V to a dead end town road.
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SSOWorld

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Re: Wausau's freeway (WI29 and US51)
« Reply #20 on: February 20, 2012, 11:13:42 PM »

Guess I can't read :banghead:

An overpass definitely makes sense here - just as you said, that will close down the gas station - or worse - move it to another intersection and increase its risks.
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Scott O.

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triplemultiplex

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Re: Wausau's freeway (WI29 and US51)
« Reply #21 on: August 13, 2013, 09:47:54 PM »

I'll give this a bump for a 2013 update.

Wausau has construction in 3 of the 4 directions served by freeway/expressway this year.

In the south, the new SB bridges over the Wisconsin River and Bus 51 are moving right along.  I think they're looking to have that open by Labor Day weekend.

On the other end of Bus 51, the replacement for the last non-interstate standard overpass on the corridor is nearly done.  Crews are moving some earth for the new ramps for CTH U's south-pointing half diamond.  No work this year on US 51's bridges over CTH K/Bus 51.  The temporary NB exit is indicative of the eventual configuration.  A diamond at Bus 51/CTH K and a half diamond at CTH U with no connection between the two via ramps like the existing split diamond.

West of the city, the almost-freeway conversion for WI 29 between WI 107 and 72nd Street has two-way traffic using the EB carriageway on new blacktop while they set to work modifying the WB lanes.  All the side roads are closed and the overpass for a new interchange at CTH O is pretty much done.  But there's a lot of work to do still.  You'll be dodging orange barrels after you've dodged the year's first snowflakes.
Looks like the final surface will be asphalt.  Not sure what's going to wind up in the median, but there's going to be something other than just grass.  Storm drains have been installed, but no sign of a concrete barrier so maybe it'll be cable?
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Re: Wausau's freeway (WI29 and US51)
« Reply #22 on: January 12, 2015, 07:34:21 PM »

Here is a letter from former State Rep (now State Senator) Tom Tiffany to WisDOT regarding the gas station owner's concern's about the overpass constructed at North Star Road/County C. In it is the official plans for the eventual conversion of U.S 51 between County K in Merrill and County S in Tomahawk to freeway status (the map is on the last page).

ftp://ftp.dot.wi.gov/dtsd/nc-region/Northstar/corr_13.pdf

Basically, they will close the North Star Road/County C and Lincoln Drive intersections and build overpasses, construct an interchange at County K in Irma, close off County J and V from U.S 51 and extend the frontage road from just south of County S to Irma.

However, although the North Star Road/County C overpass has been constructed, there is no timetable for construction of the rest of these improvements. I think they ought to go ahead and at least build the frontage road to Irma and remove all driveway access from U.S 51 (plus close off the County V intersection). That could be done at a relatively low cost, since they already own the ROW. However, the County J intersection cannot be closed until County K interchange is built, which will not be needed until traffic warrants it.

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Re: Wausau's freeway (WI29 and US51)
« Reply #23 on: January 15, 2015, 01:17:59 PM »

This wouldn't be the first time local development plans and WisDOT highway plans have conflicted.

Basically, the gas station owner didn't do his due diligence in researching the location before building the gas station, then wants WisDOT to change the plans so he doesn't go bankrupt over his poor decision.
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Re: Wausau's freeway (WI29 and US51)
« Reply #24 on: January 15, 2015, 10:35:37 PM »

This wouldn't be the first time local development plans and WisDOT highway plans have conflicted.

Basically, the gas station owner didn't do his due diligence in researching the location before building the gas station, then wants WisDOT to change the plans so he doesn't go bankrupt over his poor decision.

Just like with that McD's and the recently-opened WI 26 Milton bypass.

Mike
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