State begins to map out distant I-43 work

DOT gathers local feedback on road's reconstruction

Area resident Jacob Brzeskiewicz (right) sticks his comments to a map of the I-43 corridor during a public information meeting at Nicolet High School on Aug. 8. Photo by Michael Meidenbauer.

Area resident Jacob Brzeskiewicz (right) sticks his comments to a map of the I-43 corridor during a public information meeting at Nicolet High School on Aug. 8. Photo by Michael Meidenbauer.

Aug. 14, 2012

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is looking to area residents for input as it begins the preliminary planning stages of the eventual reconstruction of Interstate 43.

The DOT held public information meetings Aug. 7 at Mequon City Hall and Aug. 8 at Nicolet High School, detailing potential work that could go into a 14-mile stretch of I-43 from Silver Spring Drive in Glendale to Highway 60 in Grafton.

Members of the DOT project team said that resident feedback will shape the future of the project and decide which major features - such as sound-barrier retaining walls, modified ramps or interchanges - are proposed as an Environmental Impact Statement is prepared and submitted to federal authorities.

"We're going to need (residents) to share that information with us," Project Manager Manojoy Nag said at the Nicolet information meeting. "It's going to be a joint venture."

Options on the table

Spread out on two pushed-together lunch tables in front of Nag was a map of the I-43 corridor from Silver Spring Drive to Grafton, dotted with sticky notes bearing feedback from attendees. Many of the responses called for noise barriers to deal with a lane expansion, longer or modified on-ramps and off-ramps, added capacity in typically high-volume areas, and added safety measures.

Those options - along with a proposed interchange at Highland Road in Mequon or potential stormwater mitigation measures Nicolet officials are looking to put in place with help from the DOT - are the sorts of things DOT officials want to gauge resident interest in as they add and remove project options.

"The ones who live along that corridor are the ones who are able to give us insights," said DOT spokesman Michael Pyritz. "At this point, nothing is discarded and nothing is set in stone."

Nag said that the Nicolet area modifications, including the closing of the pedestrian tunnel under I-43 and the addition of a pedestrian bridge, as well as the potential addition of a retention berm east of I-43, could be included in cost-sharing agreements between the DOT and area authorities.

"We need to work it out with the locals," Nag said.

From now to 2019

The public information meetings are the first of a lengthy process which will, at the earliest, begin construction along I-43 in 2019.

Later information meetings are expected to take place in January 2013, at which the first round of project alternatives will be presented, and in August 2013. A draft version of the EIS will be presented to the public in February 2014 at a public hearing, according to a DOT timetable.

The feedback gathered by the DOT over the next two years, along with environmental impacts, will determine the draft plan incorporated in the EIS and the preliminary plan presented to the state Transportation Projects Committee, Nag said.

The TPC will prioritize and schedule the I-43 project among five other highway projects around the state, ultimately deciding a start date, though the earliest would be in 2019.

Until the next meeting in January, the DOT is looking for as much feedback as it refines its project proposal.

"At this point," said Pyritz, "everything is wide open."



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