Connector newsletter - March 2017


Unique recycling technique saving money on WIS 441 project

Melissa Kok, Wisconsin DOT - NE Region

Dump truck

While recycling material on construction projects is common, a WIS 441 Tri-County project is using a unique on-site operation to recycle sections of the Roland Kampo Bridge over Little Lake Butte des Morts in Winnebago County. This operation uses the recycled materials onsite, allowing for a more efficient process and cost savings.

In 2016, a new bridge was built over Little Lake Butte des Morts and US 10/WIS 441 traffic was shifted from the old Roland Kampo Bridge to the new bridge. The traffic switch to the new bridge allows for the reconditioning of the Roland Kampo Bridge, which once complete will handle westbound traffic. Reconditioning involves removing and adding a new deck and parapets, realigning the ends with new piers, painting girders and attaching three new bridges. 

The primary contractor, Lunda Construction, planned early on to develop an on-site processing and recycling operation and built the cost savings into their bid. Lunda’s recycling operation set-up was on WisDOT property adjacent to the bridge.

The contractor used temporary sheeting, steel grate and fill to develop the processing and loading operation. The bridge deck and parapets were removed from the bridge in 5-by-20 foot sections. 

Those sections were then placed on top of grate and operators used vibratory hammer and crusher excavators to separate the concrete from the reinforced steel. The crushed concrete fell through the grate and into the truck staged below before being hauled to an on-site location. The concrete will be used as large, angular breaker run on the WIS 441 Project. Steel is being stockpiled for recycling purposes.

Efficiencies/cost savings

On-site operations reduces ancillary costs

  • Processing materials
  • Trucking materials off site
  • Hauling in materials to site
  • Tipping fees 
  • Fees associated with placing materials off-site
  • Impacts to roadways when hauling to/from site
  • Not mining for resources

Recycles approximately 13,000 cubic yards of concrete

  • Future use as large, angular breaker run
  • $9.95/ton for recycled concrete instead of quarry material at $11.75/ton
  • Creates about $130,000 worth of recycled product
  • Approximate taxpayer savings: $23,000

   About 1,937,000 pounds of reinforced steel in deck and parapets

  • Majority recycled and reimbursed at $215/ton = about $208,200
  • Amount saved built into contractor’s bid 

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Work Zone Awareness Week stresses message that safety is in drivers' hands

David Hunt, Wisconsin DOT  

More than 2,800 crashes led to 1,110 injuries and nine deaths in Wisconsin work zones last year.

freeway work zoneNational Work Zone Awareness Week 2017 is April 3 to 7. This year's theme, "Work Zone Safety is in Your Hands," stresses the need for drivers to avoid distractions, slow down and pay attention to their surroundings when driving through work zones.

As with past years, WisDOT will share this vital safety message though its many communication channels including a speech from Secretary Dave Ross at a March 31 media event to help kick off the coming week and safety messaging through the department's social media platforms.

Work zones more than highway construction

When we think of work zones we picture major highway construction and rolling maintenance operations, but work zones also include emergency response, municipal projects and utility work along local roads.

Related links

Work zone safety page

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Wisconsin law makes talking on phones in work zones illegal

As the road construction and maintenance season ramps up, it is more important than ever for drivers to put down their phones before entering a work zone. 

It is illegal to talk on a handheld mobile device while driving in a Wisconsin road work zone. Fines start at $40 plus costs. This law is a proactive step toward increasing safety and ensuring that drivers are giving as much attention as possible to the road. 

Mobile devices continue to be the leading cause of distracted driving throughout the United States. So when you see orange cones, please put down the phones.

Related links

WisDOT's work zone safety page

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Governor approves more than $1.2 million emergency grant to repair aging dock wall

David Simon

Governor Scott Walker approved a $1.2 million emergency harbor assistance program grant to F.J. Robers Co., Inc., of La Crosse, to replace a portion of the company’s main dock wall.

F.J. Robers dockConstruction is underway with a target completion date of June 2017, which will minimize impact on the shipping season. The dock wall, located on the Mississippi River, was built in 1982 and has served as a mainstay to transport bulk commodities. Heavy use and chemical erosion have contributed to its deterioration. The full cost of the project is expected to be $1.5 million.

This port serves farms, industry, local governments and the state of Wisconsin by shipping grain, feed ingredients, road salt, coal, fertilizer, steel, cement, railroad ties, dried distiller’s grain and other commodities by barge. A recent News8000.com news story shared the important role the port plays for local businesses and those in the region.

Wisconsin’s Harbor Assistance Program has helped harbor communities maintain and improve waterborne commerce since its 1979 launch. Wisconsin DOT has awarded more than $127 million in matching funds for more than 103 port preservation and improvement projects along the Great Lakes and Mississippi River. Projects are ranked by the Harbor Advisory Council, which includes members from the US Army Corps of Engineers, UW Sea Grant Institute, Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute.

Related links

Harbor Assistance Program

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New real estate appraisal method expected to bring estimated $600,000 cost savings

David Hunt, Wisconsin DOT

working at desk, laptops

Wisconsin DOT's real estate section has developed a strategy of surplus property appraisals that is expected to save the state an estimated $600,000.

The new appraisal method applies to parcels in the department's inventory considered marketable to a very limited number of prospects, such as property owners with land adjacent to the parcel. The appraised parcels include lands in Wisconsin DOT's inventory that are no longer needed after being used as part of transportation improvement projects.

How does the new method save money? It removes the need for full property appraisals, which cost roughly $2,000. The new method would apply to parcels expected to come in at less than $15,000. Appraisals are still required of larger, more marketable parcels. About 300 of 456 small parcels fit the criteria, or about $600,000 in appraisal costs that no longer need to happen.

How does it improve service? The new assessment method takes staff 30 to 60 minutes per property, compared to the two month average previously. The simplified method makes it easy for potential buyers to understand, and enables a more efficient approach with a firm and reasonable sales figure. And the reduced preparation time creates the potential for a more efficient return of parcels to local tax rolls.

Related links

Surplus Property Management

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Division of Motor Vehicles handled record 1.4 million online vehicle registrations in 2016

Chris Truitt, Wisconsin DOT Division of Motor VehiclesDMV services online

Wisconsin DOT's Division of Motor Vehicles last year processed nearly 1.4 million vehicle registration renewals online–the highest annual total ever and an increase of more than 50 percent compared to five years ago.

"DMV customers like the convenience of renewing their vehicle registration online through our website," said Wisconsin DOT Secretary Dave Ross. "As WisDOT looks for greater efficiencies, DMV customers will benefit from the nearly 30 online services that save them time and money."

Convenience fees to process a vehicle registration renewal are less expensive online at DMV’s website. Only the website with .gov is the official state website. Others with .org and .com are not official and may have extra charges for forms or list information that is dated or incorrect.

Other license plate renewal options include visiting a DMV customer service center, mail or through local 3rd party vendors, commonly seen as kiosks in grocery stores. By using DMV’s online renewal process, a vehicle’s registration status is updated immediately, and customers receive their registration sticker and certificate by mail within days.

For added convenience, to save paper and avoid late fees, drivers can sign up for DMV’s eNotify service to receive renewal notices by email. Reminders for driver license or ID and license plates are sent about 60 days before expiration. Embedded links connect customers directly to the DMV website.

Related links

DMV website

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Wisconsin, S. Korea sign driver license reciprocity agreement

Terry Walsh, Wisconsin DOT

South Korea and Wisconsin recently signed a driver license reciprocity agreement, which allows South Korean visitors to Wisconsin to obtain a state driver license. signing

Wisconsin has similar reciprocity agreements with Germany and France. Such agreements recognize driving experience from countries with standards as stringent as Wisconsin’s. 

"We’re pleased to be able to grant a Wisconsin driver license for those with an extended stay,” said DMV Administrator Kristina Boardman. “Being able to exchange licenses with minimal testing requirements will also benefit Wisconsin citizens who temporarily or permanently reside in South Korea.”

Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) officials signed a reciprocity agreement with the Republic of Korea, which allows drivers holding a South Korean driver license to exchange it for a Wisconsin driver license without having to take the knowledge, sign and road tests. Wisconsin drivers staying longer than one year in South Korea will have the same courtesy to obtain a South Korean driver license.

Boardman and Jong-Kook Lee, consulate general of the Republic of Korea in Chicago,  signed the agreement at the Wisconsin DOT's Madison headquarters. 

Drivers holding a South Korean driver license will be able to exchange it for a Wisconsin driver license if they are at least 21 years old, their paperwork shows they will be in Wisconsin for at least one year and have at least six months remaining. DMV will work with the consulate in Chicago to verify the driving status of applicants.

The authority for allowing licensed drivers to drive in other countries is based on numerous international agreements. Foreign tourists staying up to one year may drive in Wisconsin using their foreign driver license, if they are from countries that signed the Geneva Convention and the Regulation of Inter-American Motor Vehicle Traffic, currently 183 licenses. Visitors here longer than one year who wish to obtain a Wisconsin driver license and are from countries without a reciprocity agreement must take the knowledge, sign and road tests.

As more individuals travel and live abroad, Wisconsin DMV is on the forefront of working with other states and national organizations to explore standardized driver license documents, practices and procedures.

Related links

Foreign driver license reciprocity

Driver handbooks, resources

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Merrimac Ferry service open for 2017Ferry

Brian Rice, Wisconsin DOT

The Merrimac Ferry is once again open and ready to carry travelers across the Wisconsin River. 

The ferry shuttles Highway 113 traffic 24 hours a day, seven days a week between Okee in Columbia County and Merrimac in Sauk County.

Ferry season lasts as long as the river is ice free, and this year's March 9 opening marks the third earliest season opener since the recording data began in 1971. The earliest opening day was February 24, 2006, followed by March 3, 1998.

Last year the ferry opened March 25 and closed December 10. The ferry holds 15 vehicles at a time, in addition to bicycles and pedestrians, and last year ferried more than 288,500 vehicles across the river. A single crossing takes about seven minutes.

Related links

Merrimac Ferry information page

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Wisconsin motorcyclists need motorcycle license in addition to driver license

Warmer weather has motorcyclists thinking about getting their bikes and protective gear ready for the upcoming riding season.

Motorcyle ridersAn important part of that preparation should include insuring they are ready to ride legally, and that means being properly licensed. Anyone caught operating a motorcycle without the proper license costs $200 and three demerit points.

In Wisconsin a class M license in addition to a class D driver license is required to operate a motorcycle. A great way to get a motorcycle license is to take an approved rider education course, says WisDOT Motorcycle Safety Program Manager Sarah Buzzell. 

“We’re really emphasizing that motorcyclists need to get their Class M license in addition to their regular Class D driver’s license. This can be done in a couple of ways. The DOT has an on-road motorcycle driving skills test that you can take or if you choose to complete an approved motorcycle rider education course, you can get a waiver for that skills test and bring it into the DMV when you’re ready to get your motorcycle license.”

Motorcycling requires unique skills, especially with turning and stopping. Understanding these skills is especially important in poor weather when road conditions are hazardous.  

"That’s what makes these rider safety courses so valuable," says Buzzell. "There are classes for all skill levels, from beginner to advanced and you could very easily learn something that could save your life.”

Related links

WisDOT motorcycle safety program

DMV customer service

WisDOT road test appointment scheduler

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April Law of the Month

Roundabout safety: yielding to large vehicles

State law requires drivers to yield the right of way at roundabouts to trucks and other large vehicles that are at least 40 feet long or 10 feet wide. traffic roundabout

Because commercial trucks and other large vehicles - including most buses, fire trucks, farm implements and recreational vehicles towing boats or cars - have an expanded turning radius, they need ample room to travel through roundabouts. To help traffic flow smoothly and safely through roundabouts, state law has the following provisions:

  • Drivers must yield the right of way by providing adequate space to large vehicles that are at least 40-feet long or 10 feet wide when approaching  or driving through a roundabout at approximately the same time or when close to a large vehicle.
  • If necessary, large vehicles are allowed to deviate from their lane or occupy two lanes within a roundabout.
  • If two large vehicles approach a roundabout at the same time, the vehicle on the right must yield to the vehicle on the left.

It’s important to remember that when approaching a roundabout, all drivers regardless of the size of their vehicle must yield to traffic already within the roundabout.

A citation for failure to properly yield the right of way in roundabouts costs about $175 with four demerit points added to the driver’s record. A second or subsequent offense within a year costs about $213 with an additional four points.

Roundabouts are designed to reduce serious crashes and keep traffic moving efficiently. Enlisting patience, courtesy and caution can help all vehicles ensure their safe navigation.

State Patrol reminds drivers of the rules for traffic safety in roundabouts:

  • Slow down
  • Obey traffic signs
  • Move into the correct lane for the direction you need to travel as you approach the roundabout.
  • Yield to pedestrians and bicyclists as you enter and exit a roundabout.
  • Stay in your lane within the roundabout -- don’t change lanes.
  • Exit the roundabout carefully. Use your right-turn signal in front of the splitter island to indicate your intention to exit.

Related links

Roundabout safety video

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April is National Distracted Driver Awareness Month

113 people killed last year in Wisconsin distracted driving crashes

A hairbrush, a hamburger and a cellphone—all harmless, except when you’re behind the wheel of a vehicle.

Texting and driving

“When drivers comb their hair while looking in the rearview mirror, eat a meal or text message while driving, they are in fact distracted and in danger of causing a crash or failing to avoid one,” says David Pabst, director of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation Bureau of Transportation Safety. “Trying to multi-task while driving is a recipe for disaster.”

To remind people that they must give driving their undivided attention, Congress has designated April as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

“The dangers of distracted driving, also known as inattentive driving, are not exaggerated and are a growing threat to everyone on the road. Last year in Wisconsin, 113 people were killed in crashes in which at least one driver was listed as driving inattentively. In addition, 11,302 people were injured in distracted driving crashes in 2016,” Pabst reports. “That’s an increase from 2015 when 103 people were killed and 10,640 were injured.”

To help motivate people to pay attention behind the wheel, Wisconsin DOT has produced  TV, radio and online messages that highlight how distracted driving is entirely preventable. The video messages, featuring a super-villain known as the “Distractor,” also appear on Wisconsin DOT’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

To help local communities combat distracted driving, Wisconsin DOT has allocated federal funding to support law enforcement task forces in Crawford, Grant, Iowa, Juneau, La Crosse, Sauk, Waupaca, Portage and Wood counties. 

In addition, Wisconsin DOT will continue to display messages warning about the dangers of distracted driving on electronic signs on major highways. 

“Even though you may have a busy life and have thought about multi-tasking behind the wheel, it’s time to put a stop to distracted driving habits, which put your life and the lives of others in grave danger," says Pabst.

Related links

Zero in Wisconsin: Distracted driving & texting page

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DMV’s eNotify sends electronic reminders, helps drivers to stay organized

Terry Walsh, Wisconsin DOTDMV eNotify

Wisconsin DOT's Division of Motor Vehicles' (DMV) eNotify tool not only helps regular drivers go paperless by receiving their renewal reminders electronically, it helps professional drivers, like school bus and commercial drivers, stay on top of their many licensing requirements.

When drivers sign up for eNotify, they receive an email when it’s time to renew their driver license or personal license plates. Commercial drivers also receive notification when any of the following CDL licensing credentials are about to expire:

  • CDL license
  • S endorsement (school bus license)
  • Fed Med card or school bus physical examination (if required)
  • School bus abbreviated skill testing requirement

eNotify email reminders include links to the online renewal application and payment options. And if the license credential is not renewed after the first notice a reminder notification is sent, which helps busy drivers stay organized.   

CDL drivers can also use Wisconsin DOT's online status checker anytime to verify their restrictions, license requirements and renewal dates.

Sign up to receive notices on DMV's eNotify registration page.

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