Milton Town Board approves Business 26 proposal

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Jake Magee
Tuesday, June 10, 2014

TOWN OF MILTON—On Monday, the Milton Town Board approved a Business Highway 26 designation petition that city of Milton officials say would attract drivers off the Highway 26 bypass to businesses in downtown Milton.

The board was hesitant to approve the proposal because two-thirds of the route lies outside the city, making the township responsible for maintenance and repair costs. Officials are worried that increased traffic could add to the expense.

The city of Milton and Rock County already have approved a petition to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation that will allow the addition of road signs along the bypass to attract drivers to local businesses on South Janesville Street on the city's east side. The township was the third and final entity needed to give the green light.

“I don't know why it bothers me that the town of Milton is the only entity not buying into this at this point,” town Supervisor Beth Drew said.

City Administrator Jerry Schuetz said he would ask the DOT for a general consensus on what the impact of Business 26 would be on the township's portion of the route, Milton Town Chairman Bryan Meyer said. As of yesterday's meeting, no estimate was known.

The board originally wanted to hold off on making a decision until it got an estimate.

“I don't know how we're going to get that information,” Drew said. “Nobody's going to come forth with the best-guess scenario because it's not a perfect science.”

The board agreed that while the route might increase car traffic, heavy truck traffic would likely not increase. The lighter traffic would limit damage to the road, they said.

Supervisor Leonard Stalker suggested asking the city to share the expense of repair costs should they be necessary.

“I don't even know if I would even ask (for a) 50-50 (split), but I would like to see some help,” Stalker said.

Drew expressed overall frustration over the bypass, wondering whose idea it was to divert traffic from the city in the first place.

“Milton's been cut off. There's nothing we're gonna be able to do about that,” Drew said. “It would be nice to have Business 26 to make people feel better.”

Still, she believes that the proposed route won't be a large help to local businesses.

“You still have to go through two roundabouts to get in, and for those 75-year-old ladies that are trying to get a cup of coffee and a sandwich, they're not gonna do it,” she said.

Drew owns a sandwich shop on the east side, just off South Janesville Street.

“By and large, we've heard from the population that people aren't willing to move through those roundabouts to get (to Milton),” she said.

Even with the arguments against the designation, the board decided to approve it because they believe it wouldn't immediately affect the town's budget and they want to help local businesses.

The Business 26 road signs are scheduled to be up in about six to eight weeks, pending approval.

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