Construction complete, traffic again pours onto Coffee Road in New Berlin
But wider path now also carries weight limits for trucks
New Berlin — Coffee Road, a major east-west artery through New Berlin that has been closed since mid-April, has now opened, meeting the city's extended deadline.
City officials knew the project between Racine Avenue and Calhoun Road would be massive, but it turned out to be even bigger than expected when sections of the road had to be rebuilt instead of merely repaved, as had been originally planned.
Because the subsoil in some places had to be redone, the project deadline was extended to Oct. 30, 15 days later than the original deadline. The project also ran into bad weather early on.
In addition to the resurfacing work, the project added a foot to each lane, making them 12 feet wide, and five-foot paved shoulders on both sides. Turning lanes were added to the west side of Calhoun Road and bypass lanes and turning lanes were added at various other locations.
Storm sewers were added in two areas.
Roadside ditches also are still being redone in some places to keep stormwater away from homes and some other work, especially landscaping, still must be finished up.
The eastern section of Coffee Road from Calhoun to Moorland roads will be next.
Wider, but still rural
Although the new section of Coffee Road is wider, especially with its paved shoulders, Mayor Dave Ament said it still seems to have a rural feel.
Ament paid tribute to the contractor, Wolf Construction Co., for working around trees, bushes and gardens wherever possible to lessen the impact of the wider road.
"It was a big concern of mine that we would lose the rural country atmosphere," he said.
Vern Bentley, a Coffee Road resident for 41 years, suggested the road now "looks like a freeway," but he too said that somehow it still feels rural. He's looking forward to driving on it.
"It's going to be nice," Bentley said.
Ron Hause, who has lived on Coffee Road for 69 years, also agreed that the road has retained its country feel, which is also aided by abutting farmland along the way.
And it will be safer, Hause said, particularly at the intersection with Wehr Road, which now no longer has such a steep angle.
"You don't have to look way over your shoulder anymore (at the Wehr intersection)," Hause said.
The safer intersection was made possible by cutting down three of his evergreens, but Hause said he was glad to donate them to potentially save a life.
"I can always plant trees," he said.
Though Coffee Road was never built to carry heavy trucks, some truckers have used the former county road as an alternate route to avoid traffic signals, officials said.
To protect the brand new road, the New Berlin Common Council last week imposed a 10-ton limit on the entire stretch of Coffee from Racine Avenue to Moorland Road. Because most of the work involved repaving, and not upgraded reconstruction from the ground up, heavy trucking would shorten its life, officials explained.
Instead, the city wants trucks to use modern county highways that are designated and constructed to handle the extra weight. Officials estimate that a single-unit box truck weighs eight tons, a semitrailer 12 tons and a double trailer 16 tons.
The weight restriction will also retain Coffee Road's intended purpose, officials said. It is designated as a historic residential street, with no businesses along its stretch west of Moorland Road. (The short east-end stretch of Coffee Road between Moorland and National Avenue is more commercial and not included in the weight restrictions.)
Bentley applauded the new weight restriction because more and more trucks seem to use Coffee.
"One or two weeks ago, I saw six semis go through in front of the house and the road was closed," he said. Without the weight limit, "they're just going to tear up the road."
A weight restriction for Martin Road, where a road project is nearing completion, will be considered as well.
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