Egg Harbor Receives $1.74 Million Grant for Highway 42 Project

The federal government has granted the Village of Egg Harbor $1,740,480 for its Highway 42 redevelopment project.

The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement Program grant “encourages transportation projects that improve air quality,” according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), which administers the program on behalf of the Federal Highway Administration. 

Village president John Heller said during the village board’s Feb. 8 meeting that there were only 18 projects given $24 million in CMAQ grants this cycle.

“So one-12th of the total,” Heller said. “That’s pretty good for little Egg Harbor.”

The Egg Harbor grant, according to Mike Simon, project engineer with McMahon Associates, was “largely based on the congestion mitigation provided” by three left-turn lanes designed for the project: one at the intersection of County G, another north of that at White Cliff Road and a southbound lane dedicated to the driveway of the Main Street Shops. 

However, all three of those turn lanes are now off the table in favor of a two-lane, continuous left-turn lane from south of County G to just north of the Main Street Shops.

Simon said that WisDOT reconsidered the plans and had safety and access concerns about the three left-turn lanes, and was uncomfortable that one of those led into the private Main Street Shops driveway. 

“Their latest direction is this [the continuous two-lane] has to go in,” Simon said.

Simon said the design is a throwback to one his company had originally designed in 2019 but didn’t go with when objections arose over the 17-foot road width. The new design would be 16 feet.

“There are advantages to [the continuous turn lane], and they felt it was more appropriate for this situation,” Simon said.

Another design change that could be coming is reintroducing parking spaces to the core. Though there would be a net gain of parking throughout the entire project area, all the on-street parking had been removed from the core area from Greens N Grains north to Parador.

Simon said there are “no promises,” but he and Heller discussed ways to return that parking. 

“Our discussion involved cutting down the terrace so we could put parking all the way from Parador to White Cliff Road on the left [west] side of the street,” Heller said. “That’s what Mike [Simon] is investigating. They are going to come up with what that would take and what it would cost.”

The village had held a public meeting on the project and took feedback for a week after. It received more than 80 written comments, with the most common objections being the removal of parking in the core and the southbound turn lane into the Main Street Shops. 

“We were elected by the people to listen to our people, and there’s been 39 people that commented on the lack of parking,” said trustee Angela Lensch. For that reason, and for the “year-round businesses and aging population,” she suggested they eliminate the turn lanes entirely, restore all the core parking, and reroute visitors with signage down Market Street to Church Street to access the Main Street Shops.

“I would like to see our engineers attempt to look at something like that,” she said. “We would still mitigate congestion and so still have the grant, and just educate our visitors to move around more.”

Simon said they would have to install medians to prevent left turns, and they’d also have to sell the new design to WisDOT. But he said it would reduce congestion.

“I don’t see it as a bad idea,” he said.

Trustee Lisa VanLaanen said she thought it was “late in the game” to be making changes like that. Village administrator Megan Sawyer suggested they first start with the idea of restoring parking in the core area and go from there.

New design concepts and project costs will be considered during upcoming meetings.

Project Costs

The Highway 42 Project through the Village of Egg Harbor is estimated to cost $3,540,000 for the south and north portions, and $3,080,000 for the core downtown area. Including trees, landscaping, stormwater management, and parking lot improvements at the Bertschinger Center, the total project cost is estimated at $9,460,000, including borrowing that the village did in 2021 for the project’s first phase for engineering costs and property acquisitions. 

Due to some shared costs on the County E portion of the project and grants the village received – $1,382,000 through the Transportation Alternative Project grant program in 2021 for the north and south portions, and a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program grant this year for $1,740,480 for the core area – the village’s estimated cost at this time for the remainder of the project is $6,251,760. 

Total costs include property acquisitions. Megan Sawyer, village administrator, said they are acquiring approximately 80 temporary limited easements with an average size of 1,700 square feet and approximately 20 permanent limited easements, most for utility-box locations, with an average size of 300 square feet.

The village will borrow money to pay for its portion of the project, with the total amount to be determined.

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