Janesville56.5°

Residents learn about Highway 50 project

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Kayla Bunge
February 6, 2008
— Cathy Erikson came to hear the bad news Tuesday.

The house in Delavan Township she and her husband have called home for years could fall victim to eminent domain if Highway 50 is expanded to four lanes.


Erikson joined dozens of residents and business owners at an open house at Delavan-Darien High School, where they were greeted with maps, diagrams and statistics.


They all came seeking answers. What many of them got was frustrated.


"It all sucks,” said Eileen Weyrauch, owner of Abracadabra salon on Highway 50. “I don’t understand why.”


Wisconsin Department of Transportation officials have tabbed the 5-mile stretch from Interstate 43 to Highway 67 for reconstruction in 2015. The highway is an arterial road, and recent retail development and forecast residential development are expected to drive traffic to congestion.


But some residents along Highway 50 think the existing two-lane highway is adequate.


“I pull out on that highway every day,” said Bonnie Markgraf. “Is it a problem? No. Is it sometimes? Yes.”


And the occasional longer wait in the driveway or at an intersection is hardly an inconvenience, she said, when considering the impact a four-lane highway could have on traffic safety.


"It would be a lot less safe,” Markgraf said. “With more lanes, it’s harder to control speed.”


The state instead should just improve the stretch with turn lanes and traffic lights at major intersections, such as the one with Highway 67, she said.


The uncertainty surrounding the project has many people nervous about the future of their homes and businesses and community identity. They furiously grilled DOT officials for information and didn’t hesitate to fire criticism.


But that’s what the DOT wants to hear.


"This is a study,” said project manager Beth Blum. “We’re asking for comments.”


The public information meeting Tuesday night was the first of three to be held before a study is complete in early 2010.


EXPANSION IMPACT

Engineers have three options for expanding Highway 50 to four lanes:


-- North: hold the south right-of-way and expand to the north


-- Center: hold the existing centerline and expand to the north and south


-- South: hold the north right-of-way and expand to the north and south


The amount of right-of-way needed and number of buildings affected varies depending on the option selected.


-- Residential right-of-way needed: Between 15.3 and 19.9 acres.


-- Commercial right-of-way needed: Between 18.9 and 26.2 acres.


-- Residential buildings affected: 20 or 21


-- Commercial buildings affected: Between 7 and 25


For more information about the Highway 50 project, call project manager Beth Blum at (262) 548-8644 or send an e-mail to beth.blum@dot.state.wi.us.



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