Highway Reconstruction Along Mississippi River Includes Boat Launches and Floating Docks – and Lots of Water


Known for its excellent fishing and sunsets, Goose Island County Park is an important destination in La Crosse County, located in western Wisconsin. But the county highway leading to the park had deteriorated and needed to be reconstructed. The segment was very narrow as well and surrounded by Mississippi River backwaters much of the way, causing safety concerns for pedestrians, bikers, anglers and motorists. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) needed to widen both the portion of County Trunk Highway (CTH) GI that leads to the park as well as a roadway within the park.

Construction would be a challenge for several reasons besides the presence of water on both sides of the roadway. Once within the park, the roadway included unique aspects such as boat landings and parking lots that were part of the overall improvements.

Numerous stakeholder agencies had a hand in this project, a complexity that would pressure the construction team to stay on schedule. But this highway reconstruction provided an opportunity to improve fish habitat in adjacent Wing Lake, so successful agency involvement was a top priority. As one of several partners on the project, SEH provided construction oversight and administration. 


Extensive winter work was required starting in January 2020 to meet WisDOT's schedule for widening 1.75 miles of CTH GI. Winter construction included expanding side slopes with large rock to prevent erosion, replacing multiple concrete culvert pipe and adding an 8 ft. by 8 ft. box culvert with a stoplog gate system to improve fish habitat in Wing Lake.

Construction continued into the spring and included more solutions to improve access to recreational opportunities on Goose Island. Widening the pavement would allow safer travel for bicyclists and provide parking for anglers and photographers along the side of the road.

A unique highlight of the project is the improvements to three boat landings and the parking lot within the park, which included:

  • Three new concrete slab boat launches, formed on land and pushed into place
  • Riprap to prevent undermining
  • Floating docks at each boat landing

Another overarching challenge for this project was the coordination that was required with multiple County departments and agency stakeholders. There were multiple owners for the project within La Crosse County – the County Highway Department and Facilities Department. WisDOT was the client for the project, and additional coordination was required with these affected agencies:

  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WIDNR)
  • US Fish & Wildlife
  • US Army Corps of Engineering

With numerous agencies involved, construction could have crept off schedule or budget. By providing outstanding construction oversight and administration, SEH delivered a project on time and under budget that improved the roadway, created safe access for recreationalists, improved fish habitat in Wing Lake and enhanced the experience for people fishing and using the Park.

By rehabilitating the roadway and improving the facility for pedestrians and vehicles traffic, while also preserving and improving the adjacent wetland and wildlife habitat, this project has improved the experiences of people who come to visit and enjoy this beautiful setting.

With reconstruction now complete, CTH GI provides a safe and scenic drive through the backwaters of the Mississippi River.

Related Content: Eisenhower Bridge of Valor Over Mississippi River Provides Gateway to Wisconsin and Minnesota

County Trunk Highway GI Reconstruction

La Crosse County, Wisconsin

Wisconsin Department of Transportation


  • Reconstruction and widening of the roadway leading to park
  • Mississippi River backwaters surround roadway within project limits
  • Roadway reconstruction within park and campground
  • Improved parking, safer conditions for bicyclists
  • Three new boat landings
  • Multiple concrete culvert pipe replacements
  • New box culvert with unique stoplog gate system to improve fish habitat


  • Construction administration
  • Construction oversight



  • Finished Roadway – The photo shows the finished roadway over C-32-103, just prior to completion of the structure. The pictured portable, reusable cofferdams made by Dam-It Dams were used to dewater the work area while constructing finishing touches on the stoplog system. The stoplog system is the first step for WDNR Division of Fisheries in rejuvenating a deteriorating fish habitat in Wing Lake.

  • Culvert Replacements – Five pairs of 42 in. reinforced concrete pipe culverts were replaced, in addition to a single 72 in. concrete pipe with a 48 in. x 63 in. horizontal elliptical concrete pipe, and twin 72 in. concrete pipes with the 8 ft. x 8 ft. box culvert. The dewatering method shown in the picture was used for all of the culvert pipe end installations. A large steel plate was bolted onto the end of their trench box, and water was pumped into adjacent sediment bags before re-entering the waterway.

  • Slope Widening – Upon completion of culvert replacements, the contractor undertook the task of widening the slopes to accommodate the new 40 ft. wide pavement section. Seen in the picture, one of the excavators benched a section of the slope by removing existing material, and the other followed behind and placed the special 16 in. x 2 in. select crushed material. Forty-six thousand tons of rock were needed to fill the slopes of the 1.75 mile corridor.

  • CTH GI Facing East Completed – CTH GI looking east from the backwaters of the Mississippi. Existing slopes were widened using a 16 in. x 2 in. select crushed material, and the 24 ft. roadway was pulverized and relayed. Extra base aggregate was added to the shoulders to accommodate 40 ft. of new HMA pavement. Paved shoulders provide safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and fishermen. Tree well paths were constructed at various points along the roadway to plant new trees as mitigation for necessary tree clearing.

  • Completed CTH GI – CTH GI carving through the Mississippi River backwaters. This photo shows a portion of the 46,000 tons of special 16 in. x 2 in. select crushed material used to widen the slopes of the road. Numerous culverts were replaced to accommodate the newly widened roadway. Seen here is one of five pairs of 42 in. reinforced concrete pipes installed in the winter months. This also shows the tree wells that were included at the request of USACE as a mitigation piece. Trees will be planted this fall.

  • Landing Lot Campground – Goose Island West Boat Landing and parking lot and Goose Island Campground manager's office parking lot at Mississippi River's Wigwam Slough. The North Landing Road that can be seen heading upstream was pulverized and relayed, and was raised in two spots to help alleviate yearly inundation during flood season. Numerous park shelters, playgrounds and shore fishing spots, in addition to the north boat landing, can be accessed via this roadway.