Frontage road route solution still no clearer

T IS STILL PROBABLY several decadesIin the future, and it’s been on the drawing board in various forms for several decades before now, but that doesn’t keep a possible frontage road for State 23 between State 57 and State 67 from being contentious in the present.

That was evident again last week when the state Department of Transportation unveiled the latest proposal for the frontage road that will be needed when the state upgrades State 23 between State 57 and State 67, completely closing off the intersections at Pleasant View Road, Highland Avenue (County E) and Fairview Drive (County O).

That last item is probably the only thing in this whole drama that has remained – and will remain – unchanged. At some future date, State 23 will become a freeway north of the city of Plymouth, with interchanges only at State 57, State 67 and County C.

That will be an immense benefit for the city and the region, as a state 23 freeway will provide a more efficient corridor for trade and commerce as well as tourism, boosting the local economy.

But that will require creation of a corridor for local traffic from one side of the city to the other. Finding the right route for that has proven to be an ongoing dilemma and point of contention.

The city, town, county and state signed an agreement in 1996 to route the frontage road south of State 23, largely through undeveloped land. But like many other agreements, that consensus hasn’t held up over the years.

State officials from the DOT and the Department of Natural Resources have both thrown roadblocks in the way of that path – the DOT due to cost concerns of building another bridge over the Mullet

River for that route, the DNR due to environmental concerns over building another bridge over the

Mullet River for that route.

Several alternatives have been proposed over the past few years, including extending Woodland Road in the town of Plymouth east to County OJ to provide another route between State 57 and State 67, routing the frontage road through the River View Drive subdivision in the city of Plymouth, and now routing it through the River Heights subdivision in the town of Plymouth.

Understandably, each of those ideas has drawn spirited and vocal opposition from those who would be directly impacted by each of those routes, including last week from River Heights residents with concerns about negative property value impacts, safety and increased traffic.

Local officials have strived long and hard – but in vain – to hold the state to the original 1996 agreement and minimize the impact of the frontage road on property owners. Their pleas have fallen on deaf ears – many, many deaf ears – in Madison.

So alternatives continue to come forward, each time generating more heated opposition from local residents.

Some solution needs to be found, with the recognition that whatever the outcome, there will be some who will not be happy with it.

That doesn’t appear to be achievable any time soon, but that brings it back to the likelihood that any frontage road all the way from State 57 to State 67 may not occur in the lifetime of many of those arguing about it now.

At issue:
Latest route alternative
Bottom line:
Still more vocal opposition

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