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WIS 23 in Darlington Wins 2023 ACEC-WI Award

Ariel view of Downtown Darlington with bridge over the Pecatonica River
With the entire infrastructure on its last legs, the design team rose above the challenges, delivering an innovative solution that breathed new life into the roadway that will sustain for many years to come, successfully balancing the needs and interests of the City, Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), and stakeholders.

The WIS 23 project stands out because of the cumulative effects of the challenges handled throughout the design process. The highway crosses the Pecatonica River entering into a FEMA-mapped floodplain. Combined with a deteriorated storm sewer system, this contributed to the roadway flooding regularly.

Managing structures was also challenging. With only one nearby bridge connecting Darlington’s northern and southern halves, the bridge had to remain open at all times for emergency services, residents, local businesses, and schools.

In addition to the failing infrastructure, the pedestrian accommodations were outdated and needed to be brought up to current Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

new road in suburban area with traffic cones and growing grass
Elevated street view taken in the southern portion of the project showing new sidewalk, urban shoulder, retaining walls, and steps

Through careful consideration, tactful engagement with project stakeholders, and creative problem-solving, the design team developed comprehensive solutions that not only addressed the limitations of the roadway corridor but also fostered real improvements throughout the community.

WIS 23 is now a roadway with a durable pavement structure and better accommodations for cars, trucks, oversized-overweight vehicles, ATV users, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

The work on the retaining walls south of the Pecatonica River has evoked a more uniform, cohesive feel to the streetscape while significantly enhancing pedestrian safety and accommodations.

The unique elements present within the downtown historic district have been preserved through careful planning, conscientious material selection, and selective feature enhancement. While a comprehensive solution for the flooding on the Pecatonica River was not possible under this project’s scope, the improvements made to the updated structure and the adjacent storm sewer network address the realities of the river conditions and provide right-sized solutions to improve the situation.

Drinking water within the city is also safer due to the lead pipe replacement efforts completed in conjunction with the roadway work.

view of new bridge with street lights and town in distance
Street level view taken from the southeast corner of the new Pecatonica River bridge deck looking towards the updated downtown historic district

Overall, this modernization project provided much-needed infrastructure updates to a community that had been clamoring for improvements for many years. The design team is proud of the work that was done to address the needs of the WIS 23 corridor.

WisDOT and the City of Darlington have a roadway that they can be genuinely proud of, and the positive benefits from the project’s improvements will have a lasting effect on residents and businesses for years to come.

centered shot of new road going through historic downtown
Street level view showing the existing streetscape and unique median parking configuration through Darlington’s downtown historic district
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