The lack of progress on County Road Q was the primary focus of discussion at the Farmington Town Board meeting Monday, Feb. 20.
Town board members and town residents complained about the ongoing delays in a project that the Waupaca County Highway Department has scheduled to begin each of the last three years, according to Supervisor Caroline Murphy.
After reviewing years of meeting minutes, Murphy found that the engineering studies had been completed and property had been purchased for the County Q project almost a decade before work was scheduled to begin in 2009.
Work began on County Q, east of Round Lake Road to County QQ, in 1999. Work was completed on County QQ, from State 22 to Otter Drive, in 2003 and on County QQ, from Otter Drive to State 54, in 2005.
Town Clerk Sandy Grenlie said the town board received notice in the summer of 2011 that the County Q project had been cancelled one week before it was scheduled to start.
In a letter to County Highway Commissioner Dean Steingraber and the County Highway Committee, approved at Monday’s meeting, town board members urged the county to complete the County Q project “at the earliest possible date.”
“We would hope that the Highway Q road work project would be completed in the very near future, and not in 2016 as stated,” the letter said. “Another four years would adversely affect the safety and economic status of our township.”
The letter recommended that work on County Q be done this summer, at the same time that the Wisconsin Department of Transportation will be replacing the pavement on State Highway 54.
The State 54 project, scheduled to begin in May and last about two months, will be from Foxfire Drive in Waupaca to the Portage County line.
The letter further stated, “Your advisory engineer, Dave Glodowski, at the Jan. 14, 2011, highway committee meeting, said work would be done the summer of 2011 and was past overdue. This recommendation was based on Highway Q high traffic patterns and being a major county road.”
Town Chairman Dale Trinrud criticized the Waupaca County Highway Department’s Feb. 7 public meeting in Farmington.
“I think most of the people who came to that meeting were looking for a time frame on when the project would get started, rather than being told about options,” Trinrud said.
At the meeting, Steingraber presented four options for the County Q project, ranging in cost from $820,000 to $100,000, and indicated that the county needed a consensus from the town board. Steingraber also said he could not predict when the county would start the project.
“It seems like the purpose of the meeting was to make it look like it was the town board’s fault that the road hadn’t been done yet,” Supervisor Eugene Engebretson said.
Trinrud said that he had earlier urged Steingraber to spend less money on the County Q project in order to give taxpayers more miles of improved roads.
“They’ve got better county trunks than state highways,” Trinrud said. “You can’t justify spending that much money on county roads.”
Trinrud also wondered if the county could not simply reclaim the pavement, provide narrower paved shoulders for pedestrians and cyclists and re-align the County Q and Golke Road intersection.
He estimated it would cost about $200,000 less than the most expensive option, but provide a safer road for residents and visitors.
Town officials also wanted to know why Farmington was being financially penalized for the county’s delay on the project.
At the Feb. 7 meeting, Steingraber said that even if the town chose to do nothing to County Q, the county would have to pay back $100,000 to the state.
“That money was given to the county to do the engineering studies out here. They spent the money on the engineering studies, but they put off the work,” County Supervisor Gerald Murphy said.