Walworth square is tough spot in reconstruction
If you go
What: Public information meeting regarding Highway 14 reconstruction in Walworth
When: 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19.
Where: Walworth Elementary School, 121 Beloit St., Walworth.
The state Department of Transportation also is planning to reconstruct Highway 14 from Interstate 43 to County K through Darien.
A public information meeting will be held from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 18, at the Darien Senior Center, 47 Park St., Darien.
WALWORTH The village square is going to be a sticking point as the state Department of Transportation trudges forward with plans to reconstruct Highway 14 through Walworth.
"This certainly is a unique situation," said Sue Barker, an engineer with Crispell Snyder, which is working with the state on the project. "We know the park (in the square) is an important part of the community."
The state has proposed four options to modify the square to accommodate increasing traffic, especially semitrailer trucks. The options also aim to improve traffic patterns and address safety concerns, including pedestrian crossings, angle parking and the intersection of highways 14 and 67.
Barker reminded the village board and plan commission Monday night that the proposals are merely that.
"There are relatively minor improvements we can make... that wouldn't affect the character of the square," she said. "But if we choose to do something that would have more of an impact on the operation of that intersection, that gets to be a more significant impact (on the square)."
The four proposals include:
-- Adding an island to the intersection of Highway 14 and Madison Street.
-- Widening and adding an island to the intersection of highways 14 and 67. That would require the state to buy and raze the Antique Mall on the corner of Beloit and Main streets and part of the parking lot of King Dragon on the corner of Main and Kenosha streets.
-- Extending Highway 14 through the square, adding a roundabout at the intersection with Highway 67 and extending Main Street through the square to intersect with Highway 14.
-- Extending Highway 14 through the square, adding a roundabout at the intersection with Madison Street and reorienting Beloit Street.
All four proposals include the elimination of angle parking.
Village Trustee David Rasmussen said Monday extending Highway 14 through the square, essentially cutting it into small triangles of green space, simply isn't an option. He favors instead a proposal developed by the village planner and the plan commission that would maintain the square.
The proposal—now considered a fifth option after Monday night's meeting—involves reorienting Highway 67 to join Highway 14 at the southwest corner of the square. It would, however, require the state to buy and raze the Antique Mall.
"We can make a corridor for vehicular traffic without butchering the square," Rasmussen said. "Short of a bypass, there's no better option."
But Village Trustee Matt Long was uncomfortable with how strongly Rasmussen on Monday championed the proposal developed by the village planner and the plan commission.
"Frankly, it makes me nervous," he said. "We have to agree this (the fifth option) is nothing more than preliminary."
Barker said the village must evaluate its priorities before the state can take the next step on the project.
Village President Todd Watters insisted the public be informed of all five proposals at an informational meeting planned for next week. He said if people can see drawings of what's on the table, they'll be better equipped to provide their input.
The work through the village—and around the square—is just one part of the resurfacing and reconstruction the state has planned for the 13-mile stretch of Highway 14 from Highway 11 to the state line. The project has three segments:
-- Highway 11 to Interstate 43, on which work is planned for 2013.
-- I-43 to County K through Darien, on which work is planned for 2014.
-- County K to the state line through Walworth, on which work is planned for 2015.
The portions of the highway that run through rural areas will be resurfaced, while the portions of the highway that run through the villages will be reconstructed.