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DOT may acquire businessesfor project


State looks at buying buildings for Highway 14



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October 13, 2010 | 09:02 AM
Walworth — When Waal's Department store was open, parents would take their children in September to buy back-to-school clothes and supplies there.

Eleven years ago, the former department store was purchased by John and Roberta Hunt, who now run the Antique Store on the corner.

Roberta Hunt, an owner of the Antique Mall, said customers still talk to her about the former department store. However, today more people are questioning the building's future.

The Department of Transportation is considering purchasing the Antique Mall or several other businesses located on the opposite side of the street to expand Highway 14.

Purchasing either the Antique Mall or a group of businesses would allow the state to widen the turn, which has been a trouble spot for large trucks.

The state is planning a reconstruction of Highway 14 from Highway 11 to State Line Road. The project has a total budget of about $10 million.

Crispell-Snyder engineer Sue Barker said the DOT will spend the next six to nine months considering costs and environmental impacts of purchasing the lots.

The two current options are to either purchase the Antique Mall or to purchase Siemer's Cruise Inn, The Buzz Hair Design, Sweeny's Pub, King Dragon, Top Dog Grooming and to remove a canopy from the BP Gas Station.

Village President Todd Watters said he is concerned that the DOT is looking to purchase some of the viable businesses in village's downtown.

Watters said he would rather see the businesses that are making it around the square, stay in their current locations.

Trustee David Rasmussen expressed concerns that the proposal doesn't really improve the safety around the square.

"With no increase in safety you remove the most successful businesses on the east side," Rasmussen said.

Barker declined to say these two options are the final ones, but said they are the only proposals on the table.

"They could change, but they are the current proposals," she said.

The intersection by the Antique Mall is an area where trucks frequently sideswipe other

vehicles, according to Barker. This is why that intersection is being targeted for improvements.

"The Highway 67 and 14 intersection has the highest crash rate along the whole project," Barker said.

Although Hunt isn't happy with the proposals, she agrees to be done at the intersection.

"It is a really dangerous intersection because children cross the street here," she said.

Either option would remove the island in the middle of the intersection.

In the past year, the DOT and village has presented different options for consideration, including options that cut through the park and ran next to the middle school.

"The previous options are off the table," Barker said.

Barker said it was determined that the option that cut through the park had too much of an impact on the village's square.

She said the newest proposals require a minor acquisition of the square. The proposal also removes all the angle parking from the area.

The state is planning the project because the pavement condition of the highway needs improvement. While paving the road, the department is looking at improving traffic flow.

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Tags: Geneva Lake West, Highway 14

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