Improving communities by improving roadways

Posted in: Bridges, Highways


sth-54_bodyTransportation improvement projects aren’t just for automobiles anymore. Roadway and bridge projects are being leveraged to improve pedestrian and bicycle facilities, too. As part of an overall effort to provide multi-modal travel options, build safer roadways and improve community health, the “transportation project” can become a catalyst for redeveloping communities’ cores. They not only improve traffic safety, but also can create pedestrian-friendly parkways and identity corridors through the center of a community. To accomplish these goals, engineers work with planners and the public to incorporate the community’s ideas into the improvement project.

Mead & Hunt recently worked on two projects which demonstrate this successful collaboration between engineers and the community: STH 54 in Oneida, Wisconsin and STH 96 in Wrightstown, Wisconsin.

On paper, the STH 54 project looked like a simple bridge rehabilitation project. However, it quickly became the community’s passion project as the Oneida Nation took this opportunity to infuse their culture and history into their infrastructure in a meaningful way. The planning and design teams for STH 54 in Oneida worked together to:

  • connect the community with walking and bike trails,
  • enhance a green space in front of the library, and
  • strengthen the Oneida tribe’s “sense of place” by incorporating landscaping and artwork designs from local artists throughout the project.

Since completing this corridor improvement, the landscaping, artwork, trails and “green corridor” have become the central organizing feature of the community and a major enhancement to the local quality of life.

sth-96_bodySTH 96 in Wrightstown initially was a roadway reconstruction project that involved bridge and roadway reconstruction in and around downtown Wrightstown. Our design team worked with the community to improve bicycle and pedestrian facilities through the Village to connect the community with nearby schools. This required close coordination with the public, school administrators and community leaders to design pedestrian facilities with safety enhancements like pedestrian refuges, which improve crosswalk safety. Our team also worked closely with local businesses and other stakeholders to make sure that downtown Wrightstown retained its vibrancy and personality.

Recently completed, our team captured the scale of STH 96 using a video drone. Take a look at the finished product:

Both of these projects improved the roadways for automobiles, pedestrians and cyclists, thereby improving the quality of life within each community. Do you have a roadway improvement project that can be used to improve community health and wellness? Let us know in the comments how you plan to incorporate local context and community needs into your planning and design.


John Rathke, PE, SE

About the Author

For John Rathke, P.E., S.E., it is more than managing more than 30 highway and bridge projects each year. It is about connecting with clients and listening to what is important. A leader in transportation engineering, John says that for him, the greatest reward is seeing the constructed product and sharing the pride and accomplishment with his clients, team and the public. According to John, “It’s all about teamwork.”

Read more posts by John Rathke, PE, SE

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