Whitewater prepares for reconstruction of downtown intersection

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Samantha Jacquest/Special to The Gazette
Thursday, September 19, 2013

WHITEWATER--As this year's construction season ends, the city of Whitewater is planning for next season, when one of its most used streets and intersections will get a renovation.

Milwaukee Street is the connection between the east side of the city and  downtown. In spring 2014, Milwaukee Street from Wisconsin Street to the three-way intersection with Whitewater and Main streets will be reconstructed.

City Manager Cameron Clapper said the project will likely take all summer. The intersection of Milwaukee and Main streets, known as the East Gateway, is one of the busiest intersections in the city. It also is one of the most confusing to navigate, Clapper said, and needs to be brought up to Wisconsin Department of Transportation standards.

“That project will be significant because of its impact on the downtown area,” Clapper said. “That is a major cross point between the east and west sides of the city, and it will inevitably shut down for a time. Whether that's a couple weeks or a couple months, I don't know yet, but we want to keep it as small a time frame as possible.”

The state Department of Transportation is in charge of the project.

Clapper said the street and sidewalk will be widened, and the sidewalk will be converted to a multi-use trail for bikers, runners and walkers.

While the project will get people on the trails and into the downtown area more often, the construction process might have some serious consequences on local businesses.

“There's no doubt that a project like this is going to have an impact on the business community. We would like to minimize that as much as possible. The road needs to be reconstructed, otherwise we wouldn't do the project at all because of the impact it's going to have,” Clapper said.

Most of the affected residential and business property owners have been there a long time and know the construction process. Some have expressed negative feelings toward the project, but they generally seem to be tolerating it, Clapper said.

The city will install signs to inform drivers of businesses still open during construction, and Clapper said he would like to form a group focused on helping businesses during construction.

Because the street and sidewalks will be widened, some property owners along Milwaukee Street will lose some of their property. Clapper said the details of buying land from owners have not yet been decided.

The spring project is part of a series of projects on Milwaukee Street that started in 2012, when Milwaukee Street from Wisconsin Street to Esterly Street was torn up, utilities replaced and the street widened. Clapper said all of Milwaukee Street from Main Street to the Highway 12 bypass will be either reconstructed or repaved in the next three to four years.

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