Ephraim May Not Wait for DOT on Stormwater Management

Ephraim’s Physical Facilities Committee has been talking about the Cherry Street steps and village streetlights since at least April 1, 2011, when the committee recommended moving forward with estimates for costs. Stormwater was a topic at the committee meeting on Aug. 30, 2011, when easements, flooding and culvert replacements were discussed. Six years later, the committee is talking about the same things.

“Let’s hope this time we get it done and we can get it to the board,” said Jim Stollenwerk, committee chair, at the July 18 meeting. “Hopefully they’ll approve it and we’ll get it done.”

Residents expressed frustration with the lack of progress on issues that have been before the board for years. Recently, village officials have been occupied by the highway resurface project, leaving all proposed projects outside of the scope of the highway on the back burner.

“Nothing ever gets done,” said Fred Bridenhagen, addressing stormwater runoff that has flooded his property off German Road. “We’re kind of known for that in Ephraim. I’m tired of it.”

German Road runoff, the Cherry Street steps and street lighting have all been incorporated into the village’s streetscape plan, and now the committee is looking to move forward on those projects immediately.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) will be resurfacing Hwy. 42 through Ephraim between 2018 and 2019. Part of that resurface will include stormwater management. If the village does not produce a stormwater management plan, the DOT will replace two of the nonfunctioning culverts beneath the highway.

Ephraim Maintenance Manager Brad Rasmussen said six culverts between German Road and the wetlands on the south side of the village are not functioning. The village may begin work replacing those culverts before the DOT’s highway project.

“Part of this is exacerbated because that project has been pushed and pushed,” said Brent Bristol, village administrator. “They’re going to pay for two [culverts].”

“The whole thing is a mess,” said John Cox, property owner near the intersection of German Road and Hwy. 42. “It would never meet today’s standards.”

Cox said a culvert by his property is completely clogged with debris.

The committee asked Rasmussen to contact an engineering firm to explore stormwater plans and culvert replacement, as long as that first conversation does not cost any money. The committee is not allowed to spend any money without approval from the village board.

The village board has discussed hiring a hydrologist to develop a stormwater plan but some residents did not want to bring another engineer onto the project. The village has not hired a hydrologist yet.

The committee also made a motion to get prices on restructuring the Cherry Street steps from Hockers Excavating.

“We’ve had plans and they’ve been rejected for various reasons,” said Stollenwerk of the steps. “Cost, difficulty of construction, the plans have always been rejected so we’re back to ground zero again.”

Pat Hockers said the current steps are up to code so the work would not require new engineering studies.

“You don’t have to have a big engineered plan here,” said Hockers. “You know where the steps are going, you put in some benches, that’s totally up to the committee. It’s very easy to implement.”

The work will also take stormwater runoff into account to prevent washout at the bottom of the steps and deterioration of the concrete.

“I’m a little frustrated being on this committee and I know for a fact that at least two years ago, the board did OK plans to fix the Cherry Street steps and nothing ever got done so now it’s back on our plate,” said Theresa Weborg, committee member.

Hockers will provide drawings and cost estimates to the committee which they will forward to the village board.

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