Bypass stirs up town opposition
Joe Banske cannot get through a pleasant, evening walk with his dog without stopping to talk to his neighbors about the bypass.
“There’s some real resistance in my neighborhood, and my efforts in the next week have to begin to organize,” he said of plans to gather his neighbors in Waukesha Town Hall next week. “That meeting will be to try to focus the reaction from emotional outcry to effective argument.”
Waukesha County maps since the 1960s have included a bypass on the western border of the city of Waukesha, and the red line showing a possible route touches Banske’s neighborhood. The primary route runs along the two-lane Highway TT to the west of Banske’s neighborhood and through a wetland around Pebble Creek. A second option includes construction of a bypass along Genesee Road and Sunset Drive, which form the eastern and northern borders of the neighborhood.
Now, city and county of Waukesha plans to resurrect the project for construction have stirred up the town of Waukesha in which Banske lives. The county last month voted to dedicate $2 million to study the project and determine potential routes, costs and environmental effects.
So Banske is stepping up to organize a group called Bypass the Bypass to oppose the project. He said he spent Sunday afternoon and Labor Day knocking on doors to talk to neighbors, and he said he and others have a lot of questions about what the bypass will mean to their homes.
“I think that’s what our elected officials are supposed to do,” Banske said, “but, clearly, none of them want to do it because none of them have sat around and asked us questions.”
Town Chairman Robert Tallinger said he does not have the answers residents want because the planning is out of his hands, and he won’t have the answers until next year when the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources finishes studying the wetlands around the potential routes.
Tallinger said he expects a fight no matter which route is chosen because somebody in town will be affected no matter where the bypass is built.
“I’m not afraid,” he said. “I’ll be glad to talk to somebody, but the DNR is holding the hammer now. They’re going to tell us what they want, and then it’s going to be a war. I mean, let’s be honest.”
Tallinger said he supports the route along Highway TT for the bypass, even though it would be closer to his home. Tallinger said the Genesee-Sunset route, which Banske said he prefers, is not straight enough for an effective four-lane highway.
Tallinger said he supports town residents standing up to protect their rights.
“We’re not turning anybody down,” he said, “because we don’t have any concrete information. You can sit and talk for hours. ‘Why don’t they do this? Why don’t they do that?’ But the thing is we aren’t the people who are going to decide how this is going to go.”
Banske said he and his neighbors will be ready when it is time to make those decisions. For now, he said, he is becoming comfortable in his role organizing people to discuss the bypass, even if it means his wife wonders why it takes more than a half-hour to walk the dog some nights.
“My role here at this point in time,” Banske said, “is to take the argument of those who might be affected, who may be more soft-spoken.”