Highway 136 work to end in Baraboo next week
Persistent late-summer rain delayed reconstruction work on state Highway 136, but the project should be complete by Oct. 12.
Nearly a year after replacing the former U.S. Highway 12 with a four-lane bypass west of Baraboo, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation began rebuilding the old road — renamed Highway 136 — in April. Five miles of the road have been rebuilt from Terrytown Road in West Baraboo to the Point of Rocks south of Baraboo at an estimated cost of $3.7 million.
Work initially was expected to conclude in September, but heavy rains that created regional flooding slowed the reconstruction crew’s progress. Project manager Greg Brecka said work will conclude at the end of next week, with orange drums gradually disappearing in the coming days.
“We’re getting real close,” he said.
Pavement was laid by August, before rainy weather became a frequent problem. “It slowed us down,” Brecka said. “It could’ve been worse.”
West Baraboo Village President Dave Dahlke said residents and merchants are eager to see the work end. “I’ve heard frustration with the duration of the project,” he said.
A few items remain on the crew’s agenda, including installing permanent signs, tackling drainage infrastructure work and cleaning up the site. The DOT is waiting on delivery of signal poles to be installed at the intersection of 136 and Highway 33. Temporary signals will remain in place throughout October.
“I think we will have a quality product when it’s done,” Dahlke said. “It’ll be good once we get there.”
“As a business on the effected stretch, it has been a challenge navigating the multifaceted project,” said Baraboo Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Bobbie Boettcher, whose office is adjacent to 136. “But I know that as one of the main arteries into the community, the growing pains we are going through now will fade quickly when there is a new road to greet our guests and an updated look for West Baraboo.”
Reduced traffic on 136 prompted the DOT to determine traffic signals no longer are needed at Chestnut Street in West Baraboo near McDonald’s or at Mine Road in Baraboo near Menard’s. They were removed despite residents’ concerns about access, as well as safety for drivers and walkers.
According to the DOT, traffic volume on the road has dropped 50 percent since the bypass opened. Current volume justifies stop signs on the side streets, not four-way traffic lights. The DOT says two-way stops are safer because they don’t invite rear-end collisions on the more heavily traveled route.
Gerke Excavating of Tomah was the project’s general contractor. Sections of concrete pavement and asphalt were replaced. A bridge over the Baraboo River got new railings and an epoxy overlay. The former U.S. 12-Highway 159 intersection was redesigned and rebuilt.
While reconstruction work posed challenges for customers trying to reach businesses along 136, Boettcher said commerce continued.
“While the road has been worked on this summer, Kwik Trip chose to remodel the former Shell station and move across County BD and U-Haul is currently renovating the former Sears building,” she said. “All are good signs of an improved economy and interest in investing in our community.”