Latest frontage road plan gets chilly reception

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff


THE LATEST PROPOSAL from the state Department of Transportation for a State 23 frontage road would take it north to intersect with an extension to the east of Terrace Avenue in the River Heights subdivision and then west on existing roads to intersect with State 67. — Wisconsin Department of Transportation map THE LATEST PROPOSAL from the state Department of Transportation for a State 23 frontage road would take it north to intersect with an extension to the east of Terrace Avenue in the River Heights subdivision and then west on existing roads to intersect with State 67. — Wisconsin Department of Transportation map PLYMOUTH – Another alternative for a State 23 frontage road got a less than warm welcome by some of those who would be affected Thursday.

A public information on the latest proposal from the state Department of Transportation for the frontage road when State 23 is updated to freeway status drew a crowd of about four dozen people in the Fire Department training room at City Hall.

Most were residents of the River Heights subdivision just north of the city, through which the proposed frontage road would be routed.

That prospect did not please many of those who commented. They expressed concern about safety with increased traffic and the impact on their property values.

“Who’s going to move up there and buy a house where you have a frontage road,” one subdivision resident asked.

The proposal would bring the current Kiley Way frontage road all the way west to Fairview Drive/ County O, which is already part of the city’s street plan.

That intersection would be a roundabout, with the frontage road continuing north/northwest of the city.

Terrace Avenue in River Heights would be extended east all the way to County OJ, with an intersection with the frontage road roughly halfway between County OJ and River Heights Drive.

The frontage road would then continue west on Terrace Avenue and River Heights Drive to intersect with State 67, with that intersection to be reconstructed and upgraded.

City, town and DOT officials explained that the frontage road would not be completed until State 23 is upgraded and current intersections at Pleasant View Road, County E and County O are completely closed. All agreed that the project is not likely to happen for several decades at least.

“I can tell you that this has been an extremely frustrating issue,” City Administrator Brian Yerges told the audience. “This issue was on my desk day one. There’s probably about 25 alternatives that have been out there.”

He noted that the original agreement between the city, town, county and DOT in 1996 – nearly two decades ago – called for the frontage road to be completely south of State 23.

But that would require construction of a new bridge over the Mullet River. State officials have backed off that alternative due to cost and environmental impact factors.

Plymouth Mayor Donald Pohlman said the existing Mullet River crossing on River Heights Drive makes the new alternative more acceptable to state officials.

But several in the audience noted that the existing bridge would have to be upgraded under the proposal and questioned why that would not raise cost and environmental concerns.

“I don’t envy anyone who lives in that subdivision,” Yerges said of River Heights. “This is a long-term issue and there aren’t any pleasant solutions. We’re trying to come up with options for what happens in 15, 20 or 30 years.”

Both Yerges and Pohlman noted that local officials have lobbied hard to have the 1996 agreement implemented, but have been unsuccessful in changing opinion at the state level.


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