Milton backs possible interchange study
State Rep. Kim Hixson last week submitted a request to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation that it conduct a cost-benefit analysis for a possible interchange at I-90/39 and County M, which is two miles west of Milton.
Tuesday, the council unanimously pledged its support of Hixson’s efforts.
The move comes as the Wisconsin Department of Transportation plans on Oct. 19 to propose to the state’s Transportation Projects Commission a $1 billion project to expand lanes on I-90/39 from the state line to Madison.
Hixson and Milton city officials have promoted an interchange at I-90/39 and County M as a way to spur industrial development on the city’s west end and improve access and safety along the interstate.
City officials say they hope the DOT will connect the interchange study to the larger interstate expansion plan in time for its October presentation to the state transportation commission.
“Now is the time,” Milton Alderman Brett Frazier said. “Things are moving quickly, but the (I-90/39) expansion project is at the top of the state’s list. Hopefully, the interchange will get included in the (DOT’s) planning process.”
If undertaken, the study would be state-funded and would come at no cost to the city, officials said.
Milton Mayor Tom Chesmore said he supports Hixson’s efforts to spur the state-supported study, although he said he’s not overly optimistic the DOT will include the interchange as part of its October proposal.
“It’s going to be an uphill battle for Kim Hixson to get them (the DOT) to look at this interchange,” Chesmore said. “That’s why the city figured it would be a good idea to show our support for the study.”
Chesmore said if the DOT does the study, he’d be most interested in learning the costs involved with an interchange.
He said the city has limited resources to spend outside of its established comprehensive plan. The land adjacent to where the interchange would be located is privately owned farm property in the Town of Milton.
“Right now, the city is not prepared to pay for a huge infrastructure improvement in that area,” Chesmore said, noting that in upcoming work on the city’s 2011 budget, he plans to push city facility improvements as a top priority.
Meanwhile, city, township and county officials have planned no talks on the concept of a Milton interchange.
“Until we get something firmed up at the state level, there’s nothing to discuss,” Chesmore said.
Frazier said if the DOT declines to do a study on the interchange, he wouldn’t rule out the option of the city paying for an independent study. But he said it would depend on the state’s reasons for declining the study.
“I wouldn’t necessarily want to dump taxpayer dollars into a study if there’s some hurdles we can’t jump,” he said.