Crawler cranes help new bypass become reality in Wisconsin

March 19, 2019

Highway construction is always a significant undertaking, but some projects come with more backstory than others. Take the West Waukesha Bypass in Waukesha, Wis., which has been in discussion since at least the 1970s. Designed to provide a link around the city by connecting I-94 and S.R. 59, the bypass was sought to provide a traffic route on the west side of Waukesha to safely and efficiently accommodate existing and future traffic volume.

The ball got rolling in earnest in 2009 when a memorandum of understanding regarding the project was issued by various government entities and the Wisconsin DOT (WisDOT). Finally, in 2017, construction began.

Dawes Rigging & Crane Rental, Inc., a member of the ALL Family of Companies, was hired by general contractor Kenny Construction to provide cranes for the project. Dawes sales manager and 20-year industry veteran Joe Ruddell said they have provided two crawler cranes so far. Currently on the scene are an 80-ton Link-Belt 138 HSL and a 110-ton Link-Belt 218 HSL.

According to Ruddell, the 138 HSL has 160 ft of main boom, while the 218 HSL has 140 ft. These machines are handling duty cycle work, pile driving related to the setting of caissons and other bridge work. For Midwest road projects, the 80- to 110-ton cranes are small enough to be operated by a one-man crew.

“The bypass is being constructed in four phases,” Ruddell explained. “It will tie into one of the county routes and run up to the interstate.”

Phase two, the current phase of the project, involves construction of a new four-lane divided highway. Eight bridges also are planned to be constructed as part of the phase. The 218 HSL is being used to drive piling and set beams for the bridges, four of which are single-span and the other four are two-span. Setting the beams, which range in length from 90 ft to 110 ft and weigh from 63,000 lb to 82,000 lb, typically requires a tandem pick.

The 138 HSL will be used to construct two box culverts, one to handle water overflow and another specifically designed for pedestrian traffic.

A third crawler crane, as yet undetermined but in the 150-ton to 200-ton capacity range, will be added to the project in the near future, Ruddell said. There is a possibility that some larger all-terrain cranes may be specified as well.

The budget for the West Waukesha Bypass totals $50 million. Other scheduled improvements include upgrading intersections and adding four new traffic signals, new railroad crossings, and a nearly 200-ft-long pedestrian underpass. Grading and paving will continue through the end of 2019. Waukesha government hopes that, in addition to providing easier travel, the bypass will lead to more development on the west and southwest sides of the city.

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