The scheduled maintenance and repair of Neenah's Roland Kampo Memorial Bridge is on the fast track and running as smoothly and swiftly as a bullet train, thanks to good planning and hard work at a fast pace.
As part of Hwy. 10/441, a major traffic route through Winnebago County, the four-lane, 3,256-foot-long Kampo Bridge normally carries 65,000 to 70,000 vehicles a day across Little Lake Butte des Morts in Neenah.
Constructed in the mid 1970s, it features 18 piers supporting steel girders topped by a poured-concrete deck that sits more than 50 feet above the water.
The bridge's piers, girders and deck are visually inspected every second year. The deck's last resurfacing and major maintenance had taken place in 1991, and those repairs had provided the expected 15 to 20 years of service.
As a result, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) had the deck inspected in 2005 by infrared testing. The tests confirmed that the Kampo Bridge's deck was due for large-scale maintenance.
WisDOT's manager for this project, Bill Bertrand, explained, "Our WisDOT regional office typically uses infrared testing on larger bridges and those with significant traffic volumes when the bridge decks are nearing their expected service life. Since the Roland Kampo Bridge qualified on all counts, WisDOT decided to invest in infrared inspection to get a more precise picture of the locations and extent of the problems. That up-front investment has more than paid for itself in material, time and labor savings."
Because the Kampo Bridge is such a vital traffic conduit, WisDOT decided to employ a fast-track construction schedule to complete the required work as quickly as possible while still allowing one lane of traffic in each direction.
Lunda Construction Co., Inc., Black River Falls, Wis., was the successful bidder on the project, and the work was scheduled to take place in May and June of this year.
To meet the schedule, Lunda crews are working 16 hours a day, six days a week. During some periods, work has also extended through the night. As of early June, two of the four lanes are finished, and the other two are well under way.
Repairing the bridge's nearly 259,000 square feet of deck starts with machines milling off 2-1/2 inches of the deck surface.
Chain-sounding tests indicate where additional work is needed, the spots are marked, and an army of jackhammer operators takes over the deck, chipping and digging the deteriorated concrete out of each marked location.
When a group of spots has been chipped out, each one is blown clean, then inspected by again by chain sounding. If the chain-sounding test shows that the remaining concrete is solid, the pocket is sandblasted, cleaned and filled with new concrete, which Lunda mixes itself onsite. All the concrete used in the repairs has a minimum cured strength of 3,500 psi.
As part of the project, the crews are also repairing deteriorated sections of parapet wall.
When all of the pockets have been filled, Lunda assembles a truss-mounted paving machine that travels the length of the bridge on temporary rails mounted to the parapet walls. The machine is designed to pave one lane at a time and to provide a smooth and properly crowned surface. The deck is then paved to the same thickness and profile as the original deck.
While surfacing the first two lanes, completed at the end of May, paving crews averaged 400 linear feet to 500 linear feet per day.
When each section of concrete has poured and smoothed, it is covered in burlap and soaked with an automatic water spray until fully cured.
The last step is painting the lane lines and completing aesthetic finishing work.
While Lunda crews work on the bridge, Martell Construction, Inc., Green Bay, is repairing portions of Hwy. 10/441 approaching the bridge.
Ayres Associates, Green Bay, is providing on-site engineering services for WisDOT.
Said Bertrand, "One reason things have gone smoothly is that we planned ways to soften the impact this project would have on community traffic. Because this bridge is a major traffic route, it's impossible to eliminate inconvenience. But we did our best to plan for and minimize its impact on the community."
One way planners did that was to keep the project as short as possible. Work started April 30, with completion expected in early to mid-July.
"Another way we minimized impact on the community," said Bertrand, "was making sure to complete scheduled upgrades of two nearby bridges in downtown Neenah within the last couple years, so they'd be ready to handle alternate-route traffic during this project."
WisDOT also temporarily closed the majority of interchange ramps along Hwy. 10/441 at the Hwy. 41 interchange just west of the bridge and the County Hwy. P interchange just east of the bridge. These ramp closures improve safety and traffic flow through the construction area while also preventing possible traffic backups onto Hwy. 41.
Bertrand continued, "One of the most effective things we did was letting the public know — well ahead and often — what would be happening, and suggesting alternate routes of travel. Our WisDOT public information department and the local media got the information out into the community, and it made things go very smoothly."
In addition to minimizing the impact on traffic, planners also looked to minimize impact on local residents, living near the bridge. Even though work regularly goes on for 16 hours a day and local government has granted an exemption from noise ordinances to permit working around the clock, the jackhammers never start their staccato chattering before 6:00 a.m. or continue later than 10:00 p.m.
"If we work later at night," said Bertrand, "the work is patching, sandblasting, cleaning, and other less-noisy activity."
The current $2.2-million deck renovation is expected to extend the life of the Roland Kampo Bridge deck for another 15 to 20 years.
A potential future project in the area will expand Hwy. 10/441 from four to six lanes and includes a second bridge across Little Lake Butte des Morts. Although no construction date has been established for the expansion project, it is anticipated that the current rehab project will extend the life of the Roland Kampo Bridge until the expansion project begins.