With final designs coming around the bend, the long and winding road toward solidifying the various components of the oft-discussed West Waukesha Bypass Project are starting to come together.
As a prelude to solidified designs, several city, county and state officials gathered Wednesday, April 6, for an open house and meeting to discuss the plans, to date, and next steps. The event, fittingly, took place at Waukesha West High School, in the heart of the impacted area.
Three agencies across different levels of government are overseeing different components of the bypass project, which is scheduled to begin construction in about a year.
New design elements
The city of Waukesha is designing and constructing a segment from Rolling Ridge Drive to Northview Road, while Waukesha County officials are overseeing the design and construction of a segment from Northview Road to Fiddlers Creek Drive, south of Summit Avenue.
The state Department of Transportation is overseeing the balance of the project, from Fiddlers Creek Drive to state Highway 59.
The agencies have been refining plans for the bypass in recent years as cost considerations and resident feedback have entered the equation.
One of the most notable changes, unveiled at the April 6 meeting, is a so-called rotated alignment of the bypass in the Pebble Creek area. This falls within the county's auspices of the project and has been altered to address concerns raised by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers.
The Pebble Creek portion of the project falls just north and south of Sunset Drive. Gary Evans, a manager of the county's highway engineering department, said the revisions are intended to reduce wetland impacts by about two acres.
City, county and state officials were on hand at the open house with booths and displays as several hundred attendees visited to learn more about the latest specifications of the overall projects.
Overarching concerns included noise, how the work will impact the environment, including trees, and the overall logistics of the roadway design.
Residents in the denser portions of the project within the city expressed a range of concerns, including the impact the bypass would have on speed limits.
Margaret Liedtke, a project manager within the city's engineering division, said speed limits in some areas could increase.
"There was a speed study last spring," Liedtke said. "Speed limit signs in some areas could be adjusted."
The bypass project has not been without controversy. One of the most vocal groups has been the Coalition Opposed to West Waukesha Bypass.
One question that arose by a concerned resident during a question-and-answer session was on the steps involved in making decisions. One resident within the impacted area inquired why the issue was not taken to a referendum.
"This is different from a traditional referendum that you'd see for a school or municipality," Evans said.
Infrastructure projects, such as a bypass project are more complex, he said, because they benefit wide swaths of people who do not necessarily live within the impacted area.
Share Your Views
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Waukesha County and city of Waukesha are soliciting feedback on the project through Wednesday, April 20. For information on the full scope of the project, visit waukeshabypass.org.
To reach a specific representative:
· Doug Cain, DOT: (262) 548-5603 or firstname.lastname@example.org
· Gary Evens, Waukesha County: (262) 548-7746 or email@example.com
· Margaret Liedtke, city of Waukesha: (262) 524-3589 or firstname.lastname@example.org