U.S. 53 Business - Eau Claire

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When the village of Chippewa Falls took over control of U.S. 53 Business from WisDOT, the state allocated $4.5 million for a $8-9 million corridor improvement project. The village suggested replacing three signalized intersections with roundabouts, against opposition from business owners who cited difficulty in accessing their shops. Following public discussion, preliminary design plans called for reconstructing the intersections with 115th and 118th Street and improving access to frontage roads. The intersection with 27th Avenue was also slated for improvement.1

Construction of the U.S. 53 freeway coincided with the removal of the diamond interchange between Hastings Way and Birch Street. Hastings Way was raised to intersect Birch Street at-grade by 2011.

U.S. 53 Business north
U.S. 53 Business branches west from the U.S. 53 freeway at a wye interchange (Exit 86). The first reassurance marker stands just after the gore point and Pine Lodge Road underpass. Photo taken 09/04/16.
A loop ramp quickly follows for the southbound beginning of Wis 93. STH-93 travels 68 miles south from Eau Claire to U.S. 53 outside Holmen. Photo taken 09/04/16.
U.S. 53 Business continues as a freeway from Wis 93 to a diamond interchange with U.S. 12 (Clairemont Avenue). Clairemont Avenue wraps around the south and west sides of Eau Claire as a four to six lane arterial. Photo taken 09/04/16.
Button copy signs remain in use on U.S. 53 Business (Hastings Way) north at the off-ramp to U.S. 12 (Clairemont Avenue). Note that the pull through panel was not updated to reflect the business route. Photo taken 09/04/16.
The northbound entrance ramp from U.S. 12 merges onto U.S. 53 Business as the freeway transitions into an urban arterial. Photo taken 09/04/16.
Kirk Street intersects U.S. 53 Business (Hastings Way) at the first northbound signal. The city of Eau Claire recently decided to stop using signals at the stop line, which the rest of Wisconsin uses at signalized intersections. Photo taken 09/04/16.
The city of Eau Claire chose to use Clearview font on guide signs along Hastings Way for the upcoming intersection with Brackett Avenue west. Eau Claire uses Clearview more than any other municipality in Wisconsin, though Clearview also appears on the Madison belt line freeway. Photo taken 09/04/16.
Dual turns lanes accommodate traffic turning west onto Brackett Avenue. Brackett Avenue becomes Harding Avenue a short distance to the west en route to Downtown Eau Claire. Photo taken 09/04/16.
The ensuing northbound signal on U.S. 53 Business north operates at Fenwick Avenue and EastRidge Center shopping plaza. Photo taken 09/04/16.
Approaching Highland Avenue on U.S. 53 Business north. Prior to the completion of the U.S. 53 freeway to the east, Hastings Way was six lanes wide. The arterial was redesigned by the city of Eau Claire to four lanes. WISDOT paid for the reconstruction and relinquished the alignment to the city afterwards. Photo taken 09/04/16.
Hastings Way diverges from the adjacent Altoona city line beyond Fairfax Street. Forthcoming Highland Avenue leads east to become CTH-A (Spooner Avenue) at the village line. Cities in Wisconsin typically do not have county roads within their borders along city streets. Photo taken 09/04/16.
Alternate 53 signs were posted along U.S. 53 Business in 2015 to guide U.S. 53 traffic during emergency closures, inclement weather or other disruptions along the nearby freeway. Photo taken 09/04/16.
Main Street provides a secondary route to Downtown Eau Claire from U.S. 53 Business (Hastings Way). Photo taken 09/04/16.
U.S. 53 Business north at Main Street west and the Pinnacle Way mixed use development to the east. Photo taken 09/04/16.
Hastings Way separates onto a pair of bridges crossing the Eau Claire River. The northbound span was built in 1970 and reconstructed in 2003. Completed in 2002, the southbound span includes a multi use path. Photo taken 09/04/16.
U.S. 53 Business passes over Calloway Street on the approach to Birch Street. This stretch of Hastings Way was the first part of U.S. 53 Business reconstructed in 2009. Birch Street west leads into Downtown Eau Claire and east to River Prairie Drive for its connection with the U.S. 53 freeway.
The sign pictured here is from before Eau Claire decided to adopt Clearview front. Photo taken 09/04/16.
An at grade intersection replaced the previous diamond interchange between Hastings Way and Birch Street. An intersection was chosen for U.S. 53 Business here as the least costly option given that Hastings Way no longer carried regional traffic.
A stop line signal is also present since the signal was installed before Eau Claire opted to eliminate the use of this traffic light style. Photo taken 09/04/16.
The speed limit increases to 45 miles per hour as U.S. 53 Business (Hastings Way) transitions into a less developed area after Birch Street. Photo taken 09/04/16.
Hastings Way retains controlled access standards northward while Western Avenue parallels the expressway to the west as the main commercial route from Seymour Road. Photo taken 09/04/16.
Speed limits increase further as the next 1.7 miles of U.S. 53 Business travel as a freeway. A right in, right out ramp lies ahead with an east side frontage road. Photo taken 09/04/16.
Wis 312 (North Crossing), a 7.9 mile route across north Eau Claire, meets U.S. 53 Business in a half mile. The trunk highway provides the northernmost bridge across the Chippewa River in Eau Claire. It first opened as an extension of Wis 124 in 1994, when it linked Hastings Way west to I-94. Photo taken 09/04/16.
Northbound U.S. 53 Business reaches the diamond interchange with Wis 312 (North Crossing). The urban expressway was extended east to U.S. 53 and renumbered from STH-124 to STH-312 in 2005. Photo taken 09/04/16.
Flashing lights warn drivers of the upcoming signals at Eddy Lane as the brief freeway stretch ends. Photo taken 09/04/16.
Eddy Lane joins Hastings Way with adjacent residential areas west toward the Chippewa River and east to the Pinehurst community. Photo taken 09/04/16.
Reassurance markers for U.S. 53 Business and Alternate U.S. 53 stand north of Eddy Lane. U-turns are not allowed as access remains restricted to signalized intersections between Eddy Lane and Chippewa County OO. Photo taken 09/04/16.
Still within the city of Eau Claire, U.S. 53 Business enters southern Chippewa County. Photo taken 09/04/16.
Business U.S. 53 progresses north into the village of Lake Hallie at Hogarth Street. This is the final stretch of the business route being reconstructed as part of the U.S. 53 freeway project. Photo taken 09/04/16.
Construction continues along U.S. 53 Business north of 118th Street. Photo taken 09/04/16.
Temporary sign informing drivers of the upcoming intersection with Wis 124 & County OO. Photo taken 09/04/16.
Wis 124 & CTH-OO links U.S. 53 Business with the U.S. 53 freeway south of its exchange with the Wis 29 freeway. Photo taken 09/04/16.
Wis 124 north overtakes the four lane highway northward to Chippewa Falls as U.S. 53 Business turns east. Photo taken 09/04/16.
U.S. 53 Business north & Wisconsin 124 south
Trailblazers direct motorists east along the business route to U.S. 53. Photo taken 09/04/16.
Confirming markers follow for U.S. 53 Business north, Wis 124 south and County OO east. The three routes overlap for 0.7 miles. Photo taken 09/04/16.
Commercial Boulevard runs along the west side of U.S. 53 to Melby Street. Big box retail, fast food and gas stations dot the adjacent area. Photo taken 09/04/16.
Additional shields guide motorists to U.S. 53 and Wis 29. The forthcoming exchange is the lone access point to either freeway from Lake Hallie. Photo taken 09/04/16.
Additional reassurance markers for U.S. 53 Business and Wis 124. CTH-OO extends east from their joint termini to agricultural areas in the towns of Hallie and Lafayette. Photo taken 09/04/16.
U.S. 53 winds along the east side of Lake Hallie south to Altoona and Eau Claire. Photo taken 09/04/16.
The close proximity to the cloverleaf interchange with Wis 29 resulted in a folded diamond interchange design between Wis 124 and U.S. 53. Photo taken 09/04/16.
The final shields for U.S. 53 Business north & Wis 124 south appear as County OO spans the U.S. 53 freeway. Photo taken 09/04/16.
An end shield follows as STH-124 concludes a 17.6 mile route from STH-64. Photo taken 09/04/16.
A loop ramp takes motorists onto U.S. 53 north to adjacent Wis 29 west for Elk Mound and east to Wausau. U.S. 53 joins Chippewa Falls with Superior and Duluth, Minnesota. Photo taken 09/04/16.

Sources:
  1. "Business U.S. 53 plans moving forward." Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, WI), June 24, 2015.


Photo Credits:

09/04/16 by Peter Johnson

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U.S. 53

Page Updated 09-20-2016.