Marquette Interchange: A Phoenix From the Rubble Making History In Milwaukee
In terms of budget, scale, and impact, the demolition and rebuilding of the Marquette Interchange in downtown Milwaukee is a huge project. With a total budget of $810 million, it is the most costly highway project ever undertaken in Wisconsin.
The Interchange - the junction of I-43, I-94 and I-794 near Marquette University - carries some 300,000 vehicles daily. The interchange has been completely redesigned, including adding a fifth level; widening ramps and making their curves more gradual; spacing ramps further apart; and eliminating all left-hand entrances and exits. Additionally, the project incorporates improved aesthetics on bridges, bridge piers and retaining walls in recognition of the Interchange's status as a downtown landmark.
The size and complexity of the project led Marquette Constructors to choose Delmag diesel hammers for the portions of the Interchange the joint venture is building. Performance and durability were two reasons the venture partners ordered six Delmag D46-32 hammer systems and two Delmag D62-22 systems from Hammer & Steel. "All three of the companies in the joint venture [Edward Kraemer & Sons of Plain, WI; Lunda Construction Co. of Black River Falls, WI; and Zenith Tech Inc. of Waukesha, WI] have a long history with Delmag hammers," said Brady Frederick, project director.
But Marquette Constructors was also interested in buyback options, because none of the partners is sure it will need such large hammers once the project is completed, notes Dennis Maney, project manager on the "core" segment of the project. "Delmags are recognized for their quality and dependability. They also have the highest resale value, which is directly related to their quality and reputation."
"The whole Hammer & Steel team has been extremely helpful and attentive to our needs."
Brady Frederick, Project Director
"We were able to offer Marquette Constructors a guaranteed buyback, because we are that confident in our product," says Mike Ormsby of Hammer & Steel. "This is a challenging application, but Delmags are so durable that we know they will retain their value, and be driving piles on many projects to come."
Hammer & Steel was also able to meet a very tight delivery schedule for the hammers. "They jumped through a lot of hoops for us," says Frederick, noting the joint venture was named low bidder in late August, finalized its selection of hammers in mid-September, and took delivery of four Delmags by early October. The other four were delivered by the start of November, even though some came from Germany.
The eight hammers "are performing with higher efficiency than expected in driving piles, and we've been very pleased with that," he adds.
Marquette Constructors is building two phases of the project: the core interchange (rebuilding the entire multi-level structure, plus temporary roads and bridges while the flyovers are completed), a $315 million contract which is to be completed by November 2008, and the south leg (rebuilding ramps tying I-43/I-94 into the Menomonee Valley Bridge), a $44 million project with a completion date of November 2007. The joint venture will drive 239,500 linear feet of 14-inch wall pipe pile and 89,500 linear feet of 16-inch wall pipe pile (all with half-inch walls) on the two phases.
"Delmags are recognized for their quality and dependability."
Dennis Maney, Project Manager
The project presents a number of challenges, beginning with working around live traffic, Maney notes, because two lanes must remain open in all directions. Advance planning is key as the contractors deal not only with traffic but with railroad lines, power facilities, a river, a canal and a variety of utilities within the work zone. Work hour restrictions, which limit nighttime noise and require quiet periods around university exam schedules, add to the logistical challenges.
The Delmag hammers have been the answer to at least one logistics issue, Maney says. When driving pile in an area of historic warehouses that have been converted to high-end condos, the contractors were able to use clean-burning kerosene as an alternative fuel in the diesel hammers. "The whole Hammer & Steel team has been extremely helpful and attentive to our needs," Frederick says. "When we've had technical questions, it's never taken more than a day to get help, even if they had to go to Delmag in Germany for the answers."