Much Work Ahead For Lake Parkway Extension Proposal
Residents got their first glance at plans Wednesday.
Updated 8:20 a.m. As Pat Jursik's office notes, it's actually the Lake Parkway that would be extended and then link up with I-794, so the story is updated for clarity.
For anyone anxious for construction extending Lake Parkway through Oak Creek to begin, Ken Yunker has some cold water to throw on you.
"There's going to be some groans," Yunker said Wednesday, prefacing his answer to a question about the timeline, "but it would probably take a minimum of 10 years."
And even 10 years is an "optimistic" projection, said Yunker, executive director of the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission.
The proposal to extend the Lake Parkway to Highway 100 is very preliminary and has a ways to go before getting final approval. For now, government officials are soliciting input, beginning with Wednesday's well-attended meeting – about 200 audience members – in South Milwaukee.
"The public (will) ultimately decide whether it gets built," said County Supervisor Pat Jursik, who has chaired an advisory committee exploring the extension.
The county board and state have to sign off on the plan and its estimated $207 million price tag, and it's likely the federal government would get involved as well, said Frank Busalacchi, Milwaukee County Department of Transportation director.
The advisory committee will look at the analysis and make a final recommendation on whether a 794 extension should be added to the regional transportation plan for southeastern Wisconsin.
If it does get recommended, and should the state decide to follow the recommendation, the plan essentially goes to the back of the line while more studies and preliminary engineering is done.
Extending the highway from Edgerton Avenue to Highway 100 is a huge undertaking. The state would have to acquire 118 acres of right-of-way and deal with 27 acres of impacted wetlands and 20 acres of impacted park and recreational land.
Planners would also have to address "disruptions" to 56 residences – meaning the highway would encroach within 200 feet – and 12 disruptions to commercial properties.
However, because the extension generally follows the same footprint as the Union Pacific Railroad, one major hurdle it largely won't have to deal with is relocating businesses and homes. Under the current plan, only one residence and no commercial, industrial or institutional buildings would have to be relocated.
But putting all the logistics and barriers aside, it seemed clear the idea has sparked a lot of interest and curiosity along the South Shore.
Jursik and other officials said the ultimate goal is to make residents' travel to downtown safer and quicker. They say it will relieve congestion on local streets, such as Pennsylvania Avenue, and reduce the crash rate.
Under preliminary plans, interchanges would be installed at Rawson, Drexel and Puetz, with an overpass at Forest Hill Avenue at an at-grade intersection at Highway 100.
The travel time between Highway 100 and Layton Avenue would be cut from 15 minutes to 10 minutes, according to their projections.
Jursik also expects it would spark more economic development along the South Shore.
Not everyone Wednesday was sold on the idea, however, particularly those who live close to where the highway would be built. Concerns about noise, water runoff and the exact configuration of the interchanges were brought up.
Residents can go on record with their feelings about the proposal here.