But fails to commit money to project
By Bert Lehman
At the Aug. 11 Clintonville City Council meeting, the council unanimously approved supporting the idea of widening County Trunk I to improve safety for walkers and bikers.
The support stopped short of approving money to fund such a project.
Prior to the vote, Waupaca County Highway Commissioner Dean Steingraber addressed the council about the county’s plans for County I.
Steingraber said the County I project is currently in the county’s five-year improvement plan, but it is broken into several segments.
He said the portion of County I from State Highway 45 to County Trunk Y is scheduled for repaving in 2016. There is $900,000 in the county’s 2016 budget for that project.
“It’d be great if we could reconstruct every single county trunk highway, but we just don’t have the money to be able to do that,” Steingraber said.
Widening County I would be more expensive than what the county has budgeted for the repaving project, Steingraber said.
He acknowledged that he has received requests from citizens to widen County I and the county is taking that under advisement.
“We understand their concerns, we really do, but it does come down to dollars and cents,” Steingraber said.
He also said the town of Larrabee supports widening the road, but wouldn’t commit any money to the project.
“We hear it loud and clear that everybody would like it to be wider but it comes down to how many dollars do we have and how much can we do,” Steingraber said.
County I is currently between 20 and 22 feet wide, Steingraber said.
He added, “We’re of the feeling that on top of the county trunk highway is not the place for people to be walking or biking with the width that we have there now, or even if we make it 22, 24 or 26 feet. It’s not really wide enough to be a biking lane. It’s not really a great place to be walking. People are still coming through there pretty fast.”
Steingraber asked if a sidewalk along County I within the city limits would be a better alternative.
“But inside the city limits we would be asking the city to participate in that, like we have with the city of Manawa, the city of New London, the city of Waupaca, the city of Weyauwega,” Steingraber said.
He added, “If you feel that is the way to go to give these people that mode of transportation of walking, I really feel we got to be looking at a separate place for them to be walking and that’s a sidewalk.”
A sidewalk would be more expensive.
Alderwoman Mary Beth Kuester said a sidewalk isn’t a viable alternative, and asked Steingraber what it would cost to make the road two feet wider.
Steingraber said would be around $26,500.
A motion was made and seconded to have the city send a letter of support to widen County I, but not to commit any funds to that project.
During the discussion, Alderwoman Jeannie Schley said she appreciates the concern about the residents walking on County I, but said the city has other roads that aren’t ideal for walking, but are used for walking.
“We really don’t have the money, and we have other unsafe areas as well that I think, if you prioritize it, I think Greentree Road would be a much bigger priority.”
“We only have so many dollars and we have to look at what our biggest bang for our buck is and look at how many people per dollar we can help,” said Alderman Brad Rokus. “I don’t think this has the population out there that we’re going to maximize our dollar value.”
The council unanimously approved having the city send a letter of support to the county to widen County I, but not to commit any funds to the project.
Dennis Lichtenberg, a resident who lives on County I, who first addressed the council about the need to widen County I at the May 12 council meeting, responded to the council’s action.
“I appreciate you voting, stating you are going to support it,” Lichtenberg said. “But that’s not enough. They’re still not willing to look at it, at least from the way he described it tonight.”
Lichtenberg reiterated that it is unsafe to walk and bike on County I and read letters from area residents stating the same.
“If you want to improve as a city, you have to offer people things that attract them to come to this area,” Lichtebnberg said.
He said he and other area residents will continue to ask the county to make County I wider.