The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Interstate construction poses biggest inconvenience

With summer right around the bend, UW-Eau Claire students will soon be dodging orange cones instead of classes.

Doug Derks, deputy city engineer for the city of Eau Claire said Blugolds living in town this summer won’t have too much construction to avoid in the city, but Interstate 94 may tell an entirely different story.

There are eight major projects happening from Hudson to Black River Falls along I-94 this summer, said Chris Ouellette, Wisconsin Department Of Transportation Northwest Region communications manager . Some of the projects have already started and some are starting soon.

A difference in this summer’s construction compared to last is nearly half will be worked on during off-peak hours or at night, especially closer to the Twin Cities, to reduce delays and potential for accidents.

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“It’s a risk for workers to be out on the interstate at any time, day or night,” Ouellette said. “Midday is actually more dangerous because you have lots of traffic traveling at high speeds. So when you perform the construction overnight, with less traffic, it’s actually safer for the workers.”

Ouellette said when traveling on the interstate, it is always a good idea to dial 511 or check, the traffic information service with up-to-date information like lane closures.

The minor projects around Eau Claire shouldn’t cause delays but Kyle Roder, communication relations officer for Eau Claire, said paying attention while driving is especially important during any construction.

These smaller projects consist of joint repairs of Washington Street, Grand Avenue and South Farwell Street and pothole fill ins along Clairemont Avenue, Stein Boulevard and London Road.

Roder urges drivers to be extra careful when driving in the city to allow the workers to focus on their jobs and not on their safety.

“People need to be very cognitive of work zones because there are workers who are sometimes close to traffic or even in traffic during certain jobs,” Roder said.

When speed increases the danger for workers increases, Rogers said, but that doesn’t mean workers on city streets are at less of a risk.

Senior Kaisey Garrigan said when construction season peaks for the interstate she typically takes the back roads to avoid the dangerous areas.

“Yes, it’s good they are working on the main areas they need to cover,” Garrigan said. “But it’s an inconvenience if they don’t give you a way to work around it.”

Garrigan said construction can get scary because you can’t always trust other drivers are being extra careful, even though you might be.

Ouellette said avoiding accidents is a priority of the DOT, especially because last summer there were multiple incidents on I-94 near the Roberts exit, during summer construction. One incident included an accident which resulted in the death of three high school students.

“Pay attention behind the wheel because what you may have driven through yesterday might change the next day,” Ouellette said, “And you might not be anticipating it.”

Ouellette encourages students and residents of Eau Claire to take advantage of local routes during the construction.

Some of these projects occurring along I-94 will be lasting longer than just this summer, including replacing the Red Cedar Bridges near Menomonie and replacing on and off ramps from I-94 to Eau Claire by Highway 37 and North Crossing.

In 2015, residents can expect a replacement of the Water St. Bridge. Starting at 5 p.m. on May 9 in room 160 of the Haas Fine Arts Center the first public meeting to discuss the construction will take place.


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Interstate construction poses biggest inconvenience