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DOT works on major highway

April 15, 2010

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) began construction on Highway 35/65 in River Falls on March 29. The original start date was going to be in mid-April, but due to certain circumstances, the date was moved up.

“Because of the warm weather, we were able to get started a little sooner,” said Chris Ouellette, communications manager for the DOT Northwest region.

“Part of this project is required to be done before the Farm Technology Days.”

The resurfacing and construction of the roundabout at Cemetery Road and the resurfacing of Highway 35 from Cemetery Road to County Road M are the parts of the project that need to be completed before Farm Technology Days.

According to a news release sent out from the Wisconsin DOT, during construction of the roundabout, Cemetery Road will be detoured.  This project is expected to be completed by July 16. Also, single lane closures can be expected on Highway 35/65.  The construction of this project was given to Trieweiler Construction for $1.9 million.

“Since Farm Technology Days showcases western Wisconsin, it was desirable to have the roadway work done before the event,” Ouellette said.

She also explained that there were some concerns with the safety issues with the traffic that will be coming for Farm Technology Days, so the Wisconsin DOT decided that some of this work needed to be done to make it safer.

Ouellette explained that because of the size of the project, the Wisconsin DOT couldn’t work around both Farm Technology Days and students commuting to UW-River Falls.

“Because that event is late July, we would have had to wait until August to do the work, and then we would have run into the same problem [of commuting] with the students in the fall,” Ouellette said.

“This is an extremely tight schedule and the contractor will have to put in some long hours to meet the deadlines.”

The other part of the project is the new overpass on Highway 35 over Coulee Trail.  Ouellette explained that this project just started April 5, and it is expected to be done in the end of August.

According to the press release, the overpass project was give to Mashuda Contractors for $2.4 million. 

UWRF Professor David Bonko explained that the construction hasn’t affected his commute.

“I get here early enough such that there is no traffic,” Bonko said.

UWRF student Kongmeng Vang explained that the construction also doesn’t affect him very much.

“[The] only thing that does [affect me] is being stuck behind someone who’s already following the reduced speed limit, and they go even slower,” Vang said. “Coming from Vadnais Heights, Minn., I do have to leave earlier.”

UWRF sophomore Chris Sundberg commutes from Oakdale, Minn. two days a week. He explained that the construction affects him differently each day.

“I was late for class today (Tuesday) by 10 minutes,” Sundberg said.

He explained that the road construction doesn’t bother him too much.

“It’s typically only an extra few minutes,” he said. “I just moved from a city that was doing road construction pretty much all over town, so I’m used to it”

UWRF freshman Brittney Boe commutes daily from Ellsworth. She explained that she has to leave about 15 minutes early in order to get to class on time.

“It (the construction) is going pretty smoothly,” Boe said. “I haven’t run into any problems.”