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Roberts interchange moving toward completion

Greg Holt, of Ramsey, Minn., an operator with Midwest Asphalt Corp., steers a 30-ton "Road Reclaimer" late last week, chewing away four- to 14 inches of asphalt on the former eastbound off-ramp from I-94 to Hwy. 65. Holt said the 800-hp. machine leaves a furrow of chipped pavement in its wake, which is later scooped up by a shovel or front-end loader to be reused elsewhere. This stretch of pavement was particularly hard and thick, said Holt, noting he'd replaced about 100 of the machine's carbide-tipped ...

More than a 15 months after the first dirt was moved to construct a new diamond interchange at Highway 65, motorists and truckers are enjoying the efficiencies of roundabouts, longer on- and off ramps and a four-lane bridge at the intersection with Interstate 94.

The work is but a portion of six major Wisconsin Department of Transportation projects underway in St. Croix County this summer.

On Monday, crews were completing the last "main-line paving" on what will be the westbound interstate lanes and, once that concrete has been allowed to cure for at least three days, attention will turn to installing asphalt shoulders, guard rail and signage, said Tara Weiss, project manager.

Meanwhile, other subcontractors like Midwest Asphalt Corp. were milling away old asphalt, completing some landscaping, installing lighting and wrapping up grading.

Chris Ouellette, communications manager with the WDOT's northwest district, said the Roberts interchange is largely on-schedule for completion mid- to late September, despite a "cruddy spring and some weather delays."

When complete on or before Oct. 18, the price tag on the interchange and two miles of interstate reconstruction will tally around $24.8 million.

Frequent lane shifts and sometimes non-existent shoulders have resulted in a number of traffic accidents in the two- to three-mile construction zone.

On Monday afternoon, an elderly woman lost control of her vehicle and ricocheted off a guard rail between mile markers 8 and 9. She was not seriously injured. A week earlier, traffic backed up nearly five miles when an eastbound semi truck strayed off the narrow roadway, slipped over the guardrail and overturned.

Planning for improvements to the I-94 corridor where it passes through the towns of Warren and Hudson and U.S. 12 to Wisconsin 65 continues with a public information meeting from 5-7 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 13, at the Roberts Community Center. The gathering will be the second of a series of meetings during the development process.

Included in subsequent phases will be widening to some areas to provide for three travel lanes in each direction, replacement of bridges over Kinney Road, 100th and 130th Street and correcting some "geometric features" to modern freeway standards, according to information on the DOT website.

Studies will be done within a year after which funding will be sought for the projects, which the DOT deems "high priority." It's hoped funds will become available by 2018.

Meanwhile, travelers on the east side of the county are enduring some delays on Highway 63, between Baldwin and Clear Lake, where pavement milling and resurfacing work continues along with construction of a large roundabout at the Highway 63/64/46 intersection. Estimated price on that project is $15.5 million and it should conclude in October.

In the River Falls area, construction of a new overpass, three roundabouts and a frontage road will continue until freeze-up.

Near Hudson, workers are repairing concrete pavement and making improvements at intersections on Carmichael Road and applying an epoxy overlay on both I-94 bridges across the St. Croix River.

Jeff Holmquist
Jeff Holmquist has been managing editor of the New Richmond News since 2004. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and business administration from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has previously worked as editor in Wadena, Minn.; Detroit Lakes, Minn.; Hutchinson, Minn.; and Bloomington, Minn. He also was previously owner of the Osceola Sun, Stillwater Courier and Scandia Messenger along with his wife. Together they previously founded and published The Old Times newspaper for antiques and collectibles collectors; and Up!, a Christian magazine of hope and encouragement.
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