By Brandi Makuski
When former Mayor Andrew Halverson declared Bus. 51 would be put on the city’s “back burner” in 2014, most in city government knew a decision on the project couldn’t be pushed off forever.
The project would almost mirror one currently underway in Plover, with reconstruction of the entire roadway, corrected misaligned intersections and addition of bicycle lanes between the I-39 exit to the south end of the city limits at Minnesota Avenue.
But the debate lingered over whether to leave the road as a four-lane or reduce it to a single-lane in each direction with turn lanes, and the overall project was met with heavy objection from the public.
“When the city decided to push that conversation off to a future date and focus instead on the [Hoover Ave.] grade separation, that didn’t remove the problems we have on Business 51,” said Scott Schatschneider, director of public works. “There are still many issues on that roadway we have to address in some fashion.”
Schatschneider said there’s “no rush” in making a decision about how to proceed with the city’s main artery, but is presenting a history of the roadway at Monday’s board of public works.
“It’s important for this [city] council to know some of the history of the road, how the [reconstruction] project was introduced and evolved over time,” Schatschneider said, adding the presentation would provide a “good foundation” for future discussions on how to proceed, if at all, with the reconstruction.
Comptroller-Treasurer Corey Ladick agreed conversation on the future of Bus. 51 is needed.
“It’s better to discuss a project of this size sooner rather than later,” Ladick said. “In some cases, funding for larger projects does need to be secured a year or more in advance, depending on where it’s coming from, so it’s best to make decisions relating to how we want to move forward at some point in the near future.”
Schatschneider plans to present background on the roadway at the July board of public works meeting.
The items was originally up for discussion on June 13, but was pulled from the meeting docket at the last minute due to an already-heavy agenda.