State Highway 50 plans proceed on schedule
Actual construction may not occur until 2018 or later
April 27, 2011 | 08:47 AMDelavan — Dozens of property owners who live or work along Highway 50 turned out at Delavan-Darien High School April 20 to look at and hear about the state Department of Transportation plans for major improvements and expansions to the roadway.
The project area is from Interstate 43 east, through town of Delavan and Williams Bay, to Highway 67.
The new Highway 50 arrangement, referred to as the recommended alternative by the DOT, calls for expanding the roadway to six lanes from I-43 to the entrance at Lowe's, and four lanes the rest of the way east.
The recommended alternative also includes four roundabouts, located at the intersections with County Road F North, Inlet Shore Drive, South Shore Drive/Town Hall Road and Prairie Drive.
Signals are recommended at the I-43 ramps, North Shore Drive and Theatre Road.
A stop sign is proposed for the Lowe's store entrance.
According to DOT information, the roadway widening will vary from the center, and from the north and south of Highway 50 to minimize environmental impacts, minimize business relocations and minimize cost.
While the changes may look impressive on paper, DOT spokesman Dennis A. Shook said actual work is down the line a ways, with a tentative start date of 2018.
Were the recommended alternative to suddenly become reality, 16 residences and eight businesses along Highway 50 would be impacted, Shook said.
But there will be at least three more public hearings before any plan is approved.
And before dirt is moved, the DOT will have to meet with property owners who might lose some, or even all, of their property to the road realignment to negotiate compensation, Shook said.
Environmental impacts still need to be assessed and an archeological survey must be done.
Those might still affect the project, Shook said.
According to a DOT timeline, the archeological and historical investigations will be done by the end of 2011, while the environmental document is expected to be completed by fall of 2012.
Shook said the redesign of the highway is necessary for safety reasons.
Projections indicate that traffic will exceed state DOT thresholds for two lanes.
The planning limit used by DOT for expanding from two to four lanes in a rural area is about 15,000 vehicles a day, according to DOT information.
The western half of the Highway 50 corridor is nearing or exceeding 15,000 vehicles per day now.
By 2037, projections indicate the entire Highway 50 corridor from I-43 east to Theatre Road will exceed 15,000 vehicles daily.
Shook said a Highway 50 bypass was considered by DOT, but rejected.
Although drivers could use nearby Highway 67 to avoid Highway 50, they aren't, he said.
And, since Highway 50 is the most direct route to I-43 from Fontana and Lake Geneva, there's no indication that traffic from those communities would use a bypass, either, a DOT report said.
County Supervisor Dave Weber is taking an active interest in the DOT plans.
The proposed road project goes right through his district.
Weber said his biggest concerns are the Highway 50 homes and businesses that find themselves in the way of the proposed DOT project.
Weber concedes there are some houses that may have been built too close to the Highway 50 right-of-way.
But he said the threat to businesses concerns him most.
For example, the Mobil service station at Town Hall Road and Highway 50 might be removed completely by a proposed roundabout.
"In business, location is everything," Weber said.
"They (the Mobil station) serve not just 50, but the whole (Delavan) lake front."
Weber said he doesn't believe there is anywhere else that the station could relocate that would make up for the loss of that corner.
Weber said he also hopes that Reed's Marine is missed by the highway expansion.
The roundabout at County Highway F North would also endanger businesses at that corner and might impact Lake Lawn Resort, which is in the process of being sold.
Weber said now is the time to plan so the project will have the least impact on homes and businesses.
Those who want more information about the Highway 50 project may go to http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/projects/wis50corridor/index.htm, or contact Dennis A. Shook at (414) 750-2395.