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Highway 12 reroute to remain on Walworth County plan

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Pedro Oliveira Jr.
August 15, 2009
— Rerouting Highway 12 to cut through Sugar Creek Township between Elkhorn and Whitewater is the best option if future traffic requires major road improvements, a county committee has decided.

The Walworth County Jurisdictional Highway Planning Committee voted 14-5 Thursday to recommend a plan developed in the 1960s to reroute Highway 12 between Elkhorn to Whitewater. They rejected a more recent proposal to widen Highway 12 to four lanes along its existing route.


The committee's recommendation eventually will be considered by state Department of Transportation officials, who say they have no immediate plans for Highway 12 changes.


The issue has become a battle between townships.


Sugar Creek Township folks don't want Highway 12 rerouted to cut straight through their township.


La Grange Township residents don't want Highway 12 widened into a four-lane highway along the existing route.


In the middle is the Walworth County Jurisdictional Highway Planning Committee, whose members had to decide Thursday which of the plans to recommend to the state Department of Transportation.


Nearly 100 residents attended the committee's meeting Thursday to express their concerns. Most wanted a decision right away, regardless of the outcome.


"I think we owe it to the young people to make a decision as to what we're going to do," said Anita Bettinger, a La Grange Township businesswoman. "We need an answer for the youth of today."


Sugar Creek Town Board Chairman Dave Duwe said the decision was fair even though it isn't what his community wants.


"The people who were present got to voice their opinion, and they were heard," Duwe said. "They still want that red line on the map.


"I think there was a little bit of problem with people not understanding it completely, as far as the DOT is going to do what the DOT is going to do anyway."


The county committee serves only an advisory role. State officials have said they have no immediate plans to reroute or widen the highway, and it would take strong local support for the department to prioritize either option.


"It was the most logical decision," said Shane Crawford, Walworth County director of public works and chairman of the committee.


Most of those who spoke against widening Highway 12 along its existing route said it could be environmentally detrimental and pose safety concerns. They were frustrated with the possibility of fewer exits to their properties and school buses maneuvering in a high-speed, high-traffic road.



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