Franklin — Prepared to face the worst, residents on South North Cape Road were pleased to hear that reconstruction of the road may not be as detrimental as originally proposed.
The residents attended a Common Council meeting last week, when aldermen voted on an alternative for the county road's reconstruction.
At a meeting last month, outraged residents criticized two designs for the road, proposed by Milwaukee County, that included sidewalk, curb and gutter, and other amenities that would require the removal of more than 300 trees along the rural roadway.
The $3.8 million project was to be paid for with about $1 million from the city, $2.2 million from the county and $600,000 from the state.
State financing, provided through the County Highway Improvement Program, would have placed requirements on South North Cape Road that would include the sidewalk.
"I'm pleased to tell you that some pretty good things have happened since we were last here," Mayor Tom Taylor told the residents, who filled nearly every seat in the City Hall Council Chambers. After a lengthy discussion between city and county officials, "the county, instead of accepting the CHIP funds from the state, is planning on doing the road reconstruction by itself without sidewalks and with the provision that after reconstruction of a 20- to 30-year road ... the city would come in and maintain it."
City Engineer Jack Bennett also spoke with county officials, and they reached an agreement that the road will be reconstructed with 6 inches of pavement, reconstructed ditches and a width of 22 feet — that same as its current width.
"In areas where we get close to trees, we'll try to do some ditch enclosures to minimize the taking of trees," Bennett said.
A city arborist is to be consulted to analyze the health of trees that may not be salvageable.
"The county feels it could do (all) that for somewhere between $1.5 million and $1.25 million, and they have the funds available," Bennett said.
The reconstruction will most likely be done over the course of a two-phase, two-year project. If the county approves the design, construction on the northern half of the road should be completed this year, Bennett said.
By the end, "we would have a road that would last a very, very long time," he said.
Once the county road reconstruction is complete, the city will take responsibility for its maintenance.
The Common Council agreed to ask Himalayan Consultants, Milwaukee County's highway engineering firm, for a new, minimal design that would convey the reconstruction changes; the city would then recommend it to the County Board for approval.
"It's not very (often) that I can say I'm proud of my government," said South North Cape Road resident Jeff Bandur, "but I'm very pleased with what I heard tonight. I think most of the residents on South North Cape thought this was a done deal. I appreciate you listening to everyone ... and we are pretty united on this front.
"We're looking forward to just getting the road done."
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