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County public works director addresses several West Waukesha Bypass concerns

Traffic moves along Highway TT in Waukesha. The proposed Waukesha West Bypass would turn the two-lane Meadowbrook and Merrill Hills roads (Highway TT) into four-lane thoroughfares on the west side of Waukesha.

Traffic moves along Highway TT in Waukesha. The proposed Waukesha West Bypass would turn the two-lane Meadowbrook and Merrill Hills roads (Highway TT) into four-lane thoroughfares on the west side of Waukesha. Photo By Todd Ponath

Dec. 31, 2012

Town of Waukesha residents had some choice words for Waukesha County Director of Public Works Allison Bussler during the public comment section of a meeting regarding the West Waukesha Bypass.

They were critical of Bussler and the county because they feel their voice hasn't been heard throughout this process as resolutions on the bypass have been taken in the last month by the county, city and town.

We asked Bussler a few questions on the proposed bypass, a four-lane thoroughfare on the west side of Waukesha that would replace the two-lane Meadowbrook and Merrill Hills roads.

The town isn't contributing financially to the project. Why is that?

Based on the 2009 memorandum of understanding between the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, county, city and town, the town is not contributing to the construction of the project but agreed to take jurisdiction of some segments of existing Merrill Hills Road if the project is built.

The town was also upset over the fact that an interview with Chairwoman Angie E. Van Scyoc and two supervisors was not included in the Environmental Impact Statement. What is the basis behind this?

As part of the indirect and cumulative effects analysis conducted for the Draft EIS, the county's consultant interviewed Van Scyoc and Supervisors (Brian) Fischer and (Joe) Banske to get their input on the potential indirect effects and cumulative effects of the project. The consultant also interviewed City of Waukesha, City of Pewaukee and Waukesha County planning staff for the same purpose.

Those interviews are documented in the Indirect and Cumulative Effects Report that is on a CD at the back of the Draft EIS.

The report is referenced on page 3-8 of the Draft EIS. The interviews are summarized on pages 3-9 and 3-10 of the Draft EIS. When we have a stand-alone report that is relevant to the EIS we typically summarize the report in the EIS and include the full report as an appendix or on a CD at the back of the document. The town has requested that the full summary of the interview be included in the Final EIS.

What will be done to limit the impact on the wetlands in the area?

The alternatives that are under consideration have been modified where possible to reduce their impact on wetland. The Pebble Creek West and Far West Alternatives are on the west edge of the Pebble Creek corridor mainly as a way to reduce wetland impacts.

The conceptual design of the road through the wetland areas along and south of Sunset Drive would have a narrower median and no bike path or sidewalk; this is one way to further minimize wetland impacts. For those wetland impacts that are unavoidable, Waukesha County is working with the DNR and the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission wetland staff to identify suitable areas nearby where new wetland could be created to mitigate the wetland impact.

(Editor's Note: The EIS states that the county-endorsed Pebble Creek Alternative would displace 43.8 acres of farmland and 14.0 acres of wetland. Moreover, the EIS states that the bypass' 25-foot cut slop could affect groundwater flow.)

What about the safety concerns at Meadowbrook Elementary School that have come up?

Pedestrian and bicyclist safety is a big issue all along the proposed route and certainly at Meadowbrook School. If the project is built, a sidewalk would be built on the west side of the road from Rolling Ridge Drive to the Kame Terrace subdivision.

A bike path would be built along the east side of the road from Rolling Ridge Drive down to Sunset Drive, providing a safe connection between the Lake Country Trail and the GlacialDrumlin State Trail. And a new bridge carrying the road over the Glacial Drumlin would make it safer for people on the Glacial Drumlin Trail.

At Meadowbrook School the traffic light would remain in place, as well as a median and marked crosswalks. Waukesha County, City of Waukesha, Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the school district will work together to determine what additional pedestrian safety measures are needed. Everyone wants to make sure the crossing at the school is safe.

What's the next step for the bypass now that the public comment period is finished?

Waukesha County, the Federal Highway Administration and Wisconsin Department of Transportation will review public and local government input received throughout the study, including the recently-concluded comment period on the Draft EIS.

The next big milestone is the Final Environmental Impact Statement (as opposed to the Draft EIS that was approved in October). At the Final EIS, Waukesha County will announce the preferred alternative.

We anticipate the Final EIS will be approved in spring or early summer 2013.

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