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.
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:
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:
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.
County Trunk Highway GI Reconstruction
La Crosse County, Wisconsin
Wisconsin Department of Transportation