by CESAR SALAZAR
Wisconsin Highways 35 and 54 in Trempealeau County will be closed July 5-19 for the replacement of a rail crossing. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) will reroute drivers via Wisconsin highways 93 and 95 during those two weeks.
With WisDOT’s currently presented detours at highways 93 and 95, commuters driving from Fountain City to Centerville would have to reroute northeast through Arcadia, then south to Centerville. This would be a change in the commute time from 18 minutes to about 42 minutes, according to Google Maps.
The closure is a part of WisDOT’s two-year project to replace two bridges spanning the west and east channels of the Trempealeau River along Highway 35, remove piers from the channels, improve the roadway’s water drainage, and conduct road maintenance. The existing bridges were built in 1956 and have reached the end of their service life span, according to WisDOT Northwest Region Project Manager Nick Pitsch.
“The railway needs the time to close down their connected tracks to complete any tie-ins that we’ll have with the pavement associated with the project,” Pitsch said. “It’s just safer to close down the active rail [crossings] as we complete those tie-ins.”
The highway closure for the railway crossing will also allow WisDOT to do construction work without traffic on the road. “It’s more efficient that way and we can get the project done quicker,” Pitsch said.
Pitsch does not foresee any delays with the railway crossing closure, short of an actual catastrophe. While this closure will only last July 5-19, major construction of the bridges and road work for the Highway 35 project is expected to be done in October of this year, according to the WisDOT’s 511 Projects website. More information on the project can be found at projects.511wi.gov/wis35tremp.
“We’re just looking to improve the roadways … and make them safer and more usable,” Pitsch said. He continued, “Hopefully, at the end of the project, Highway 35 will be a better road to drive on.”