Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:24 pm
Canal Street, the main east-west thoroughfare in Milwaukee’s Menomonee River Valley, will be redesigned in about half the time an engineering firm would normally take to complete the project.
The street, which currently traverses only about half the length of the valley — will be rebuilt and extended west to Miller Park to facilitate redevelopment of the 1,200-acre industrial valley.
Apart from completing the design process in the 12 months allotted by the city, designers will have to solve a plethora of obstacles, ranging from environmental remediation to flooding and stormwater treatment challenges.
Engineers have to figure out how to reconstruct 1.3 miles of existing roadway from 6th Street to 25th Street – and where to route and 1.5 miles of new roadway from 25th Street to the southeastern corner of Miller Park’s parking lot.
The new and rebuilt Canal Street will be a four-lane road with a 10-foot-wide path along the entire northern side of the road to accommodate bike traffic both ways.
"Normally we would do something like this in 18 to 24 months, instead of 12 months," said Paul Boersma, environmental marketing director for the Milwaukee office of HNTB Corp. "Using a team approach really helps."
HNTB is one-half of Milwaukee Transportation Partners, a joint venture with CH2M Hill.
The two nationwide firms, both of which have offices in the city, joined in June of 2001 and submitted the successful bid to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation for the redesign of the Marquette Interchange.
The partnership was awarded the design contract for Canal Street in January, according to Kristine Martinsek, who is handling community involvement for the project.
"We have formed an advisory committee that has met twice," Martinsek said. "We met once to get a general overview and once to look at design alternatives which will be presented at the public meeting."
The two proposed designs address questions of where the new sections of Canal Street should be routed, according to Martinsek.
Routing questions must address "missing existing utilities, creating more land for economic development, minimizing the size of bridges that need to be made and creating access for all the parcels adjacent to the proposed alignments," Boersma said.
The general public got its first look at design alternatives for Canal Street at a public meeting March 26 at Miller Park’s Uecker Room. However, according to Boersma, even after routing questions are answered, much of the design work remains to be done.
"This project will need to integrate with an overall environmental remediation project to handle contamination in the CNC Shops area (east of Miller Park)," Boersma said. "That will include capping of soils with clean soil caps. … We would expect the whole CNC Shops area to be raised from a few to several feet above its existing level."
While other professionals have already planned a series of created wetlands that will treat the stormwater for the west side of the redevelopment area, stormwater treatment options for the east side of the project are still up in the air, according to Boersma.
"We are much more space-constrained on the east side of the valley, but we would like to integrate some stormwater management features with some open spaces we are creating along the river edge," Boersma said.
The stormwater features will be designed to cleanse stormwater, rather than retain excess rainwater and prevent flooding, but the potential for flooding will influence designs in the west end of the valley, according to Boersma.
"On the west side of the valley, there are some larger flood plain issues that are being evaluated as part of the overall project," Boersma said. "We need to determine how to keep the flood waters from spilling out of the river banks."
April 4, 2003 Small Business Times, Milwaukee