Racine West 6th Street Bridge Replacement
The Racine West 6th Street Bridge, over the Root River and Horlick Drive in Racine, WI, was designed by Charles S. Whitney and initially opened in December 1928. The 161-foot-long combination open spandrel concrete arch structure was known as "the most beautiful bridge ever built in Racine." The Library of Congress described it as "one of Wisconsin's most unusual and architecturally significant concrete bridges."
This project entailed replacing this historic bridge. First, the existing structure was removed, including all pre-existing substructures. The team carefully preserved various historical artifacts during demolition to incorporate them into the new design that mimicked the previous structure and included cast-in-place and precast concrete. With the location of the bridge downstream of the Root River Steelhead Facility, the duration of the construction had multiple phases where work was not allowed to accommodate fish spawning. Coordination with the contractor, DNR, and the remainder of the project team was crucial to stay on time and within budget. The banks along the Root River within the footprint of the construction project are also home to the endangered Queensnake. The team took special precautions throughout construction to ensure activities did not harm any species.
This new bridge incorporates the salvaged historical artifacts. Those that were not included were donated to the local Racine Heritage Museum. An existing terra cotta gargoyle was removed from the bridge, with a new precast gargoyle panel replica installed within both substructure and superstructure limits.
CHALLENGES + SOLUTIONS
- Zenith Tech (ZTI) faced multiple challenges in matching the existing roadway, an existing modular block wall, and a buried historic abutment at the east side of the structure. Our team worked seamlessly with the owner and designer to adapt to unforeseen conditions resulting in the completion of the bridge well before the contract completion date. The team also implemented two cost-reduction incentive proposals to provide significant cost savings to the owner.
- When challenges during the construction of the substructure of the proposed east abutment became apparent, ZTI provided innovative solutions to ensure the project would be structurally sound while meeting contract requirements. The team created a rendering for the proposed substructure using modeling software. The rendering provided an outline to WisDOT to avoid a potential conflict with the existing modular block wall at wing wall #3. The construction team was able to offer solutions to achieve the constructed bridge structure well in advance of the work commencing. This proactive approach allowed the material to be onsite before it was needed, keeping the project on schedule.
- Delivery and installation of the precast members would not have been seamless without thorough and frequent communication with all project stakeholders. This included contact with local law enforcement, who aided in ensuring the safe delivery through downtown Racine - adjacent to local businesses, schools, and residents