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River Hills residents concerned about I-43 expansion

March 19, 2013

The impact of increased noise and storm water runoff that would come along with the possible expansion of Interstate-43 is a top concern for River Hills officials as the state's I-43 North-South Corridor Study continues.

Village Manager Chris Lear recently provided an update to the Village Board on the Wisconsin Department of Transportation's study of the 14-mile stretch of I-43 between Silver Spring Drive and Wisconsin Highway 60, and the likely impact on River Hills.

"It seems clear from everything I'm seeing that progress is being made on the I-43 corridor study, so much so that it seems like one of the directions they're heading is the addition of two lanes on the freeway," Lear said.

That would include one lane in either direction, Lear said. Although not yet a certainty, he said the bottom line is that the study is examining highway congestion, which typically means more lanes.

Susan Muggli, who serves as a River Hills representative on the Citizen's Committee for the study, agreed that based on the meetings she has attended, the expansion seems like it will go through.

"They still don't know if they want to move Port Washington Road, go to the west and take part of Nicolet away, or build an overpass," Muggli noted.

Reconstruction of the Good Hope and Brown Deer road bridges also has been part of the discussion, she said.

For Muggli, whose property has experienced flooding in the past, storm water runoff is a significant concern.

Indian Creek is already highly polluted due to runoff from the freeway, she said. Sodium chloride was recently detected in her well, she added, likely a consequence of dropping water tables following the drought. She urged residents to have their wells tested before any expansion of the interstate is approved.

"I'm just thinking that once these two lanes of concrete go in, much more water is going to be flowing all the way through every place," Muggli said.

Trustee Wendy Walcott added that, "Not only do you have I-43 to contend with, but above that you've got apartment houses and parking lots, the synagogue, the school, Port Washington Road and east of that - that's all the same runoff."

It is not clear to what extent the DOT would be responsible for helping to manage increased storm water issues on residential properties, Muggli said, and whether the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources should be involved.

Aside from water issues, trustees also expressed noise-related concerns.

Despite the noise that would be generated by additional traffic on I-43, Lear said the DOT is not recommending the installation of sound barriers in River Hills, based on lot density.

Trustee Michael White said it would be helpful to have an understanding of how much sound attenuation there is from sound barrier retaining walls where they are in place, such as Glendale. He suggested it might be more valuable to consider property values in River Hills with regard to the decision to install sound barriers.

"If you look at the amount of assessed value as opposed to the density, I think you'd find that the impact on values from the noise is very dramatic here," White said.

The cost to install sound barriers would be about $2.5 million per mile from county line to Good Hope Road, Muggli said.

Trustee Bill Walker said it wouldn't hurt for village officials and residents to contact Sen. Alberta Darling regarding their concerns. Other trustees agreed and indicated plans to be in touch with Darling in the near future and as the study proceeds.

AT A GLANCE

As determined by the DOT, Interstate 43 has exceeded its design life and is no longer economical to maintain. The DOT's full evaluation of the corridor includes steps to:

identify safety concerns

assess physical condition and configuration of roadways

identify potential environmental concerns and socioeconomic factors that may be affected by the corridor

Information on the study, including public meetings, can be found here: www.dot.wisconsin.gov/projects/seregion/43/public.htm.

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