Wauwatosa pushes to keep up with the DOT
Discovery Parkway will be key detour as work continues
The state Department of Transportation has set a "very aggressive" pace on its Zoo Interchange project, said David Jaeckels, and this has motivated the city to push toward completion of Discovery Parkway.
Jaeckels, since March the city's construction communications liaison, is assigned to keep track of city projects and serve as a link between city staff and the city's contractors.
The DOT, by most accounts, is working faster than originally anticipated, and will soon turn its sights on the interchange linking Watertown Plank Road to Highway 45. This will shut down Watertown Plank; and Discovery Parkway, which will connect Watertown Plank to the new Swan Boulevard — under construction at the present time — will be a key alternate route.
Discovery Parkway is slated to be completed by the end of October, Jaeckels said.
On Discovery Parkway, the subgrade is in place, and "you can actually see the path of the road, where the curves are going to go, where the manholes are, the fire hydrants," Jaeckels said.
"It looks quite impressive now," he said.
The project has faced some challenges.
"We did have a lot of rain in the early part of the summer and spring, and in construction of a major site like this, with roadway construction and the grading that had to happen, that was a huge (challenge)," he said. "But the contractors are pushing forward diligently, and they are preparing to put down the beds, which is the gravel underlayment, and then they can start getting ready to do curb, gutter and roadways in the next month and a half or so."
A major steam tunnel that cuts through Innovation Campus has posed another challenge. The tunnel delivered heat from the We Energies plant just east of Innovation Campus to facilities to the west. This included Wauwatosa Fire Station No. 3, at 10525 Watertown Plank Road; the Milwaukee County Parks Department building, at 9480 W. Watertown Plank Road; and the Juvenile Court facility, 10201 W. Watertown Plank Road.
All the customers except the Parks building and Juvenile Court building have been removed from the steam tunnel system and transferred to alternative systems.
When the last two are taken off, the tunnel will be abandoned. As Innovation Campus is developed, the tunnel will be dug up in some places, and in other places it will be filled in. Some construction has continued through the use of "bridges" over the tunnel, Jaeckels said.
Emlynn Grisar of the DOT said the department wanted to do the Swan Boulevard bridge as soon as possible to minimize risk and keep the Watertown Plank interchange with Highway 45 on schedule.
At some point the northbound ramp from Watertown Plank to Swan will close.
"Our preference would be to do that after the new Discovery Parkway opens," Grisar said, but the department could close northbound Swan without the availability of Discovery Parkway if necessary, she said.
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