County does not endorse biking or walking roadway
By Bert Lehman
Citizens who have been seeking that County Trunk I in Clintonville be widened got the approval from the Waupaca County Highway Committee to widen it to 26 feet.
A group of citizens has been lobbying Waupaca County, town of Larrabee and city of Clintonville officials for several months to have road widened when it is scheduled to be repaved in 2016.
Dennis Lichtenberg, a resident in the area, first addressed the Clintonville City Council on May 12, seeking to have the road widened. At that time he asked that it be placed on the next month’s council agenda. It wasn’t on the June meeting agenda, but Lichtenberg again addressed the council during the public comments portion of the meeting.
The topic was placed on the council’s July meeting agenda, but the council unanimously approved postponing a vote on the issue until the August meeting when more information would be available. Clintonville City Administrator Chuck Kell also recommended inviting Waupaca County Highway Commissioner Dean Steingraber to address the council about the issue.
Steingraber did address the council at its August meeting. He told the council that widening County I was more expensive than what the county had budgeted for the repaving project. He also said the town of Larrabee endorsed the project but wouldn’t commit any funds to the project. He added that the county doesn’t endorse people walking or biking on County I even if it was 26 feet.
The council unanimously approved supporting the idea of widening County I to improve safety for walkers and bikers. The support stopped short of approving city funds for the project.
After the vote, Lichtenberg addressed the council, thanking it for the support, but added that wasn’t enough. He added that he and other area residents would continue to ask the county to make County I wider.
At a recent Waupaca County Highway Committee meeting, the committee approved widening County I. It is scheduled to be at 26 feet from Highway 45 to Kluth Road.
“The wider pavement allows us to maintain the road easier because you don’t have the trucks running on the gravel shoulder,” Steingraber said, about why the county changed its decision.
He said construction on the roadway is scheduled for 2016. When it is completed it will be 26 feet wide, with white lines at 22 feet, creating two 11 foot lanes and two feet of blacktop paved shoulders on each side.
Even after County I is widened, Steingraber said the county still doesn’t endorse walking or biking on the road because it doesn’t meet the standards of a pedestrian bike and walking lane.
“We don’t want to be saying that this is a bike lane or a place that we’d be recommending people to be walking,” Steingraber said. “Typically when you are talking a biking lane you are talking 10 foot and this is only going to be a two foot paved shoulder.”
Lichtenberg said he was happy with the committee’s decision.
“We were all pretty satisfied with the way the County Highway Committee handled it,” Lichtenberg said. “We probably appeared before them about four times and they were responsive to us.”
He added that it is clear County I is an inferior road when compared to other county roads.
“We had a lot of support from people calling to express reasons why it should be widened,” Lichtenberg said.
He said he and other citizens spent four months and attended around 10 government meetings, but this shows citizens do have a voice and can make a difference.
“The more we got into it the more people joined in,” he said.
Steingraber agreed that input from citizens was a factor.
“I think it helped as far as initially getting the concerns out there,” Steingraber said. “We see that number of people there and their interest in it, I think that always makes a difference.”
The widening of County I will come at a cost.
“It’s going to be more expensive because we’re going wider, but we are putting it in the budget. We’re working on the budget right now,” Steingraber said.