Highway 42/57 Intersection in Sister Bay to Move

The Sister Bay Village Board passed a motion to re-route State Highway 57 at a special board meeting on August 6.

At the meeting, two alternatives were presented to the board by Jeremy Ashauer, project manager from the Department of Transportation (DOT). The one chosen with a 4-3 vote moves the highway so it intersects with State Highway 42 at the top of the hill south of the Sister Bay Visitor Center.

The chosen alternative also makes plans to lower the hill where the highways will meet. Ashauer said the department will try to get the grade, or slope, of the road from 12 percent to 10.5 percent.

“One of the largest complaints from the community has been the steepness of that hill in the winter,” Ashauer said. “It’s going to be better, obviously not optimal yet, but the conditions really don’t allow us to get much lower than that without buying out a lot of properties or incurring a significant expense.”

Lowering the hill will require rock blasting, which may close lanes of traffic on Highway 42. Ashauer expects the construction to begin after Labor Day in 2014 and be done in early summer of 2015, hopefully before the Fourth of July.

“We’re pushing to do as much work as possible after Fall Fest and before Memorial Day,” Ashauer said.

Decisions about sidewalks and what to do with the area of the current intersection of State Highways 42 and 57 will be decided later by the village.

Village board trustees Patrick Duffy, Shane Solomon, Dave Lienau and John Clove voted for this alternative. Trustees Ken Church and Scott Baker and village president Denise Bhirdo voted against it.

The other alternative would have left the intersection of Highways 42 and 57 where it is, and create another route up the hill similar to the current Gateway Drive.

“This is such a major decision for the board to be making,” Bhirdo said. “It’s going to affect everyone from the time of construction until forever, and I was a little surprised that we only had about six people show up in the audience.”

Bhirdo asked for the issue to be put on the agenda for the next village board meeting on August 14 in case community members, Bayshore Oversight Committee members or board members want to discuss the construction further.

Jeff Johnson of Going Garbage and Sister Bay/Liberty Grove Fire Chief Chris Hecht both said they preferred the option the board didn’t choose.

“I don’t think it’s the decision in the best interest of traffic flow on the highway from the perspective of the operator of heavy equipment,” Johnson said.

Although both options are better than the current intersection, Johnson didn’t like that the chosen plan gets rid of an alternate route between the highways.

Despite the close vote on the future of State Highway 57, there was cause for a shared sigh of relief at Monday’s meeting. There were no roundabouts in either proposed DOT plan because of the hills in Sister Bay.

“Everybody says that the DOT wants to put them everywhere,” Ashauer said. “That’s not entirely true.”