County I may be 2 feet narrower than planned
By Robert Cloud
Residents along County Trunk I near Clintonville are asking the county to reconsider its most recent plans for repaving the road.
County I is currently between 20 feet and 21 1/2 feet wide along a nearly three-mile stretch from U.S. Highway 45 east to Kluth Road. It passes through the city of Clintonville and the towns of Larrabee and Matteson.
In August 2015, the Clintonville City Council voted in support of widening the road to make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists, but failed to approve any city funding for the project. The Larrabee Town Board also endorsed the project, but did not commit any funds to it.
Although the county initially planned to repave the road at its current width, the Waupaca County Highway Committee voted in September 2015 to widen County I to 26 feet.
However, then Highway Commissioner Dean Steingraber said at that time the county recommended against walking or biking along the roadway.
The county had scheduled the project for 2016, then delayed it one year due to budget restrictions.
Dennis Lichtenberg, who has a farm on County I in Larrabee, has been instrumental in trying to persuade the county to widen the road to 26 feet.
In early July, Lichtenberg noticed county employees placing painted stakes along County I. The stakes were setting measurements for a roadway of 24-feet-4-inches wide.
At a county highway committee meeting on July 7, Lichtenberg and other residents reiterated their concerns for pedestrians and cyclists along County I.
Al Wichmann, a member of the Clintonville Trails Committee, said a trail is being developed along the railroad right of way. When it is finished, the trail will come out onto County I.
“Twenty-four feet wouldn’t be safe,” Wichmann said. “It should be wide enough that people can walk it without endangering their safety.”
“Every foot you can get, helps,” according to Dale Kluth. He noted the farm machinery and big trucks that use the road, as well as the high traffic count.
Gerald Schroeder asked the committee to consider the safety of children who are boarding school buses on County I.
“There are 75 residents who live in a trailer court on County I,” Lichtenberg said, noting that many of them walk to U.S. 45 in order to go to work.
Lichtenberg said a traffic study found that 2,000 vehicles per day use County I, including large farm equipment.
Casey Beyersdorf, who replaced Steingraber as highway commissioner in March, said a 26-foot wide road will not fit on the current roadbed.
“If you go to 26 feet, that pushes the shoulders and ditches out and impacts yards,” said Lisa Coombs, the county highway engineering specialist.
Coombs also questioned the validity of the traffic count that Lichtenberg presented.
She said the state Department of Transportation conducted that study in 2009 during the berry picking season. When it is not berry picking season, the traffic count averages about 560 vehicles per day, Coombs said.
“Twenty-four feet will be a noticeable difference,” said Bob Flease, committee chairman.
Flease said the wider the county makes the road, the faster traffic will travel, which in turn will make it less safe for pedestrians and cyclists.
“The road is not made to walk on,” said committee member Bill Jonely.
The issue is tentatively scheduled for further discussion at the committee’s next meeting on Thursday, June 21.