Ephraim Resurface Deadline Extended, Seeking Outside Help

Ephraim will have some more breathing room to finalize plans for its highway resurface after the Department of Transportation (DOT) gave the village a verbal agreement to push the deadline back three months from the original Aug. 1 deadline.

The village will hire a hydrologist to help develop a stormwater management plan and seek additional consultation on DOT standards for the resurface of the highway.

“From the last meeting that we had regarding streetscape it was the general consensus that we would try to get various contact people that we could use to help us deal with streetscape in a more orderly fashion,” said Mike McCutcheon, village board president.

The board will review three hydrologists with the engineering firm AECOM, which the village has used to develop its streetscape plans up to this point. The village will also consider Madison-based Randall J. Hunt, a research hydrologist with the Wisconsin Water Science Center.

The village is also considering consultation on the DOT standards, such as lane width and stormwater management, that brought the entire project to a halt at the last village board meeting.

When the village sent its 30 percent plans to the DOT earlier this year, the DOT responded that the village needed 12-foot lane lengths instead of 11-foot due to federal trucking route standards, which the village was unaware of until two weeks ago.

Ken Nelson, a member of the planning commission and former president and CEO of an engineering consultant firm, wrote a letter to the village board outlining some of the ways the village may be able circumvent these DOT standards.

“For several years the federal highway authority has been emphasizing context-sensitive solutions,” wrote Nelson in the letter read by McCutcheon.

Some of these context solutions include minimizing tree loss and traffic calming in more densely populated areas, both of which play a part in the Ephraim resurface.

Village board members were noticeably frustrated with the lack of information on the DOT’s timeline and standards.

“I want to treat Jeremy [Ashauer, DOT project manager for the Ephraim resurface] with the respect he deserves; maybe that’s more than the respect he’s earned at this point,” said Trustee Tim Nelson. “At the same time, I don’t want us to be in a position of cowering and hoping that somebody takes the time to talk to us… We’ve been burned so far.”

The village is considering contracting Dan Grasser, former chief engineer at the Wisconsin DOT, to plan the highway resurface.

In other village matters:

  • The village board will begin developing a 20-year capital projects plan in each of its departments to better track upcoming large capital projects.
  • “Here we are, one year later and we don’t have beer cans lining the streets,” said McCutcheon before the village board renewed seven alcohol licenses for Chef’s Hat, Good Eggs, Joe Jo’s Pizza and Gelato, The Old Post Office, Somerset Inn and Suites, Summer Kitchen and Trixie’s.

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