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Subdivision's private roads too narrow for fire engine



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Parts of the Angels Flight subdivision have such narrow roads that emergency vehicles can't pass through.

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June 25, 2013 | 03:46 PM
TOWN OF WALWORTH — Residents in the Angels Flight subdivision in the town of Walworth have a problem.

The private drive that leads to their houses along Geneva Lake puts them in a high-risk area in an emergency.

Walworth Fire Chief Andy Long said he brought the issue to the town board several years ago.

"There's one section of the roadway that is too narrow to get our main engine down there," he said. "We've had to make some adjustments to take other trucks down there if there's a call."

Long said he's met with the residents to explain the problem.

"It was the hope that they would get together and widen the road out there," he said. "Nothing has transpired since that talk last summer."

Town Chairman Joe Abell said it was disappointing.

"It's like living on the Mississippi River and not having flood insurance," he said at the June 11 town board meeting. "People don't put a value on their safety. I have a real hard time with that."

Town Supervisor Bill Martin said he's talked with many of the residents who have houses along the road.

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"Everyone on Angels Flight is well aware of the situation," he said. "I was personally down there last summer with the trucks and fire chief. I think they said it would cost between $40,000 and $80,000 to widen it. That's divided by the dozen or so homes on that road.

Martin said the village didn't have jurisdiction on private roads and couldn't enforce road widening.

"We don't want to take the responsibility (for an additional road) either," he said. "I don't know how we're going to solve it. Maybe somebody's personal property damage is enough (to sway the residents). You hate to see someone get hurt or lose a life because someone is too bullheaded to widen out (the road)."

Long said the fire department cannot force the residents, either.

"The road doesn't have to meet the ordinances of the township because it's a private subdivision," he said. "We hope they take our advice and get something done. We can only make recommendations."

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Long said the department is obligated to respond to the scene of a fire or emergency.

"We have to take a different truck down there than our first line engine," he said. "It takes more time to get it in there and get it in properly."

Long didn't know the specific measurements needed to fit the fire department vehicles, but according to the Wisconsin Department of Administration, most city and village two-way streets are 60 feet across.

Town roads must be at least 49.5 feet across, and if a town road receives more than 100 vehicles a day, it must be 66 feet across.

Private roads do not have to comply with these state and local standards because they are not maintained by municipal or county officials.

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However, municipal emergency services have to respond regardless of the location.

"There's still hope that things are moving along that we don't know about," Long said. "All indications are that nothing is happening. We had hoped something would be done by now."

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