State 23 hearing reaffirms what we already know

IT WAS PROBABLY NOT surprising that there was pretty much unanimous support for the four-lane Plymouth to Fond du Lac State 23 project at a Department of Transportation hearing last month in Fond du Lac.

After all, if you were to take a vote of people who live in Sheboygan and Fond du Lac counties, those who live near the highway and those who use the highway, support for the four-lane project would be overwhelming.

And yet, we all continue to wait for it to finally become a reality – for more years and more fatalities than necessary.

The hearing drew a standing room only crowd of more than 350 to the Prairie Theater at the University of Wisconsin-Fond du Lac, with all who spoke strongly supporting the expansion project and the DOT’s supplemental environmental impact study.

Several speakers shared stories about the deadly danger on the two-lane rural highway that serves as a major connector between Sheboygan and Fond du Lac and an arterial from there to the rest of the state.

There were a number of anecdotal tales and eyewitness stories of fatal crashes and near-misses over the years along the road.

Business and industry representatives told of the impact on their commerce thanks to the bottleneck that is the current twolane State 23.

Civic leaders, including Plymouth Mayor Donald Pohlman, related how the two-lane highway hinders economic growth and development all along the highway, as business and industry too often opt for other locations with easier transportation connections.

So, with all of this support, why is State 23 between Plymouth and Fond du Lac still an outdated, dangerous two-lane highway?

Work was set to begin on the project four years ago when Federal Judge Lynn Adelman issued an injunction to halt the project, an injunction that is still in place.

The injunction was in response to a suit brought by the environmental group 1000

Friends of Wisconsin, who challenged the data used by the DOT in their original environmental impact study.

Adelman ordered the DOT to rewrite their study, and it was this revised study that was presented at last month’s public hearing.

The DOT will continue to receive public comment on the study and project until July 31 – to Bryan Lipke at the DOT Green Bay regional office by phone (920) 492-5703 or email at – and then will submit the report to Adelman for a final ruling.

If the report is accepted, work on the project could begin next year and would take three to four years to complete.

There were no speakers against the project at the hearing, including no speakers or comment from the 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, although they have indicated they intend to pursue their effort to block the project in court.

We can only hope that the voice of the people – an overwhelming voice of support – including those who have had loved ones or friends die on this dangerous stretch of highway will be heard and we can finally see the dream of four lanes from Plymouth to Fond du Lac – long overdue and greatly needed – finally become a reality.

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