Local officials to meet with DOT
By John Faucher
In late September, local officials received a letter from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation inviting them to attend an update meeting on the State Highway 15 expansion project.
The meeting will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Oct. 9 at the Outagamie County Highway Department on Holland Road in Appleton.
The letter signed by WisDOT Project Manager Bill Bertrand, stated the meeting is intended solely for local officials along the WIS 15 corridor.
“The purpose of the meeting is to inform local officials about impacts to the WIS 15 project schedule due to a decrease in funding levels within the statewide major highway program,” the letter stated.
New London City Administrator Kent Hager plans to attend the meeting.
“We haven’t received official word, but we are suspecting that they will be announcing a delay in the project,” said Hager. Although he said he hopes this is not the case.
“I just looked on my bookshelf and the ‘STH 15/USH 45 Corridor Preservation Report’ is dated February 2001. If they wait too long, they’ll have to do all the studies over again,” said Hager.
Hortonville Village President Traci Martens said she definitely plans to attend the Oct. 9 meeting. Village Administrator Diane Wessel also plans to attend.
“This meeting is extremely important to us and we intend to stay very active in the process,” said Martens. “We really have not heard what the exact content of the meeting is. We are fearful it is yet another delay.”
“If so, we are hopeful that the DOT will take into consideration some of our requests for design changes to allow for safety response vehicles to have better access to the new highway,” Martens said.
The Village Board passed a resolution dated Aug. 20, urging the state to keep the State 15 bypass project on schedule. The resolution also asked for the plans to include an access point at County M for safety personnel and commuters.
The village has also asked for improvements to the existing State 15, as they await construction of the bypass.
“There are many safety concerns with the existing highway that we hope will also be addressed at this meeting,” added Martens. “We appreciate WisDOT reaching out to us to hold this meeting and keep us informed of their decisions. I know that many of the affected municipalities sent resolutions and comments. I would expect that they weighed all of our concerns and now formalized a response. We will wait until Oct. 9 for their announcement and hope that they have given consideration to our suggestions.”
On Tuesday, Sept. 29, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported online that the DOT has officially delayed five major projects, including the $148 million State 15 project between New London and Greenville. The online story reported that the project would be pushed off until 2023.