After over two years of discussion, the Liberty Grove Town Board voted 3-2 to re-pave and widen Isle View Road according to recommendations made by Steven Parent of Baudhuin Incorporated engineering firm.
The road is currently 22 feet wide, with 18 feet of pavement and between zero and two feet of shoulder. After construction is completed next summer, the road will be 24 feet wide, with 20 feet of pavement and 2 feet of shoulder on each side.
Parent’s recommendations allowed for some compromise with community members afraid of destroying the rustic character of Isle View Road. By moving the road’s centerline, the town can avoid cutting some trees.
“If there’s a good tree that’s on the border [of cutting], but still in the clear zone, there’s some wiggle room as far as cutting or leaving that tree,” said Walter Kalms, Liberty Grove town clerk.
Kalms said that by shifting the road, they will cut only 70 trees instead of 95. Sixteen of those 70 trees slated to be cut are already dead or dying.
But for some residents, that’s not enough.
“I’m not happy about it,” said Kelly Mazeski, a resident of Landin Lane. “As someone who’s lived off of Isle View since 1997 and chose to live there because of its rustic scenery, I am not pleased that they’re going to make the road wider.”
Mazeski hoped the board would choose to keep the pavement to 18 feet, add two feet of shoulder to either side of the road and reduce the speed limit to 35 mph.
Currently, the speed limit of Isle View Road is 55 mph. The board can vote to reduce the limit to 45 mph but would have to go through the Department of Transportation (DOT) to bring the speed limit down to 35 mph.
Town supervisor Robert Tidball, one of two supervisors to vote against widening the road, expects the town board will work to bring the speed limit down.
Town board chairman John Lowry, supervisor Nancy Goss and supervisor MaryKay Shumway voted for the motion to widen Isle View Road, while supervisors Frank Forkert and Tidball voted against it.
“I didn’t think it was necessary to widen the road,” Tidball said. “I originally in February voted to do that, but after I looked at the situation and heard from the people I changed my mind.”
Tidball also took issue with Parent’s report presented to the town board, the highway committee and over 50 Liberty Grove residents at a special meeting on July 26 in regard to the amount of traffic on Isle View Road. The report said the average daily traffic (ADT) count of Isle View Road is 193 vehicles per day.
Tidball did some freelance traffic counting from a camera set up on Isle View Road. Tidball did not set up the camera, and he would not say who did. The ADT from that camera was only 83 vehicles per day.
Parent’s count was done from Thursday, May 24 to Tuesday, May 29, and Tidball’s was done over the eight days after Memorial Day. Parent said the difference between the counts, 110 vehicles per day, was insignificant, but Tidball disagreed.
“That’s significant because that puts us under the magic 100 number, but even more significant was that the section of the law that was being used in the report was not the valid section,” Tidball said.
Parent referred to Section 82.50 of the Wisconsin State Statutes, written by the legislature to guide DOT rules, to determine the appropriate width of the road. According to Parent’s report, a road with an ADT count between 100 and 250 vehicles should have 20 feet of pavement with three-foot shoulders.
Under Section 82.50, roads with an ADT count fewer than 100 vehicles only need an 18-foot surface width with three-foot shoulders.
But Tidball said Section 82.50 isn’t the right measure to use. Instead, they should have looked under TRANS 204, written by the DOT according to the legislature’s guidelines, which says roads being resurfaced with an ADT count less than 250 should be 18 feet wide with two-foot shoulders.
“If you look at the statutes there are more categories for roads and more detail as far as road requirements, and that’s why I leaned more heavily on the state statutes,” Parent said. “It is kind of complicated.”
Despite the secret cameras, contention over cut trees and years of discussion that have gone into this road resurfacing project, the board came to a decision and is moving forward.
“I was happy to hear the board agreed to go with the 20 foot pavement because I think that gives them the most flexibility to use discretion in the clear zone on what trees could possibly remain,” Parent said.
The town will now meet with property owners along Isle View Road to discuss the new plan and get input on certain trees that are on the border of the cut zone. Kalms said they hope to cut trees this fall, remove the stumps in the spring, then widen and re-pave the road next summer.