Milton, DOT hammering out bypass sign plans

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Neil Johnson
Thursday, May 8, 2014

MILTON—The city of Milton is working on a plan with the state Department of Transportation to upgrade and add Milton signs at key spots along the Highway 26 bypass.

The idea: Greater visibility for a city that now sees 16,000 vehicles a day sweep a mile east of its downtown.

The other idea: It's a potential start for a “Business 26” route that would create a more uniform path into Milton for anyone who wants to get there off the bypass.

At a meeting last week between DOT Secretary Mark Gottlieb, Milton city staff, Mayor Brett Frazier and state legislators Andy Jorgensen and Tim Cullen, the DOT agreed to revamping signs along Highway 26 bypass near the Highway 59 interchange to give Milton more play, Frazier said.

Now, the signs give top billing to Whitewater, which is 11 miles east on Highway 59. 

The DOT also agreed to put up a sign on the bypass for motorists approaching the County N exit north of Milton that shows both County N and Highway 59 are exits to Milton, Frazier said.

County N offers the straightest shot for southbound traffic to the former Highway 26, which is now called Milton Road.

Milton Road turns into Janesville Street at Milton city limits, and leads motorists straight through the city's eastside downtown.

Even though the DOT has agreed to point out to motorists they can get off at County N to get to Milton, Frazier said the agency has stopped short of agreeing to place a sign at County N and Milton Road to further point people to Milton.

Now, the intersection only has a sign pointing to Whitewater and Edgerton.

Milton is four miles south of County N. Whitewater is 11 miles east, and Edgerton is seven miles west.

Frazier said the city wants a Milton sign there, in part because it would be a lynchpin in establishing a “Business 26” route, which officials say would help funnel traffic into the city's eastside downtown.

Downtown businesses have been scuffling since the bypass opened because of major traffic pattern shifts.

“We keep pushing (for the County N sign). We think it makes sense. The DOT doesn't,” Frazier said.

Part of the challenge, Frazier said, is the route is no longer a state highway. It's now under town of Milton and Rock County jurisdiction. 

Frazier said the city is reaching out to the town of Milton and Rock County for support in getting a sign there. It's a first step in a potential “Business 26” route, which would span from The Highway 59/Highway 26 bypass interchange west to Janesville Street, then north to County N, where traffic could link back into the bypass.

The DOT is amenable, Frazier said, to working out a plan that would include exit and directional signs along with potential signs that mark Highway 59, County N and Milton Road as a “Business 26” for Milton.

The plan would take cooperation between the city, the state, the county and the town of Milton.

“As part of the process we have to get the support of the (county and town) governing bodies,” Frazier said. “Both have indicated they're very interested in having it (a potential business route) for the city and the community of Milton."

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