Planners are struggling to devise a Waukesha bypass route that minimizes damage to wetlands, parks and subdivisions.
The planners will spend the next two months narrowing project options — in terms of routes, road widths and designs — for detailed study. The route that planners have spent the most time studying thus far is Meadowbrook Road between Interstate 94 and Highway 59, which is the route local governments mapped in the late 1960s.
Since then, subdivisions have sprouted along the road and residents of the town of Waukesha have raised concerns about truck noise and effects on the nearby Pebble Creek wetland.
“There’s going to be some issues, that’s for sure,” said James Dwyer, Waukesha County Board chairman, “and I think they’re trying to find the routes with the least problem for citizens.”
County residents at a public hearing Tuesday suggested building the bypass farther west where there are no roads and fewer subdivisions. County consultants laid out four maps for residents to draw on with blue markers and, within two hours of the hearing’s start, every map had the western route traced with a bypass running north-south along Pewaukee’s western border.
A potential problem with that route is it passes through the middle of the county-owned Retzer Nature Center, said Gary Evans, Waukesha County engineering service manager. He said that at this early stage, everything will be considered.
“As of today,” he said during the hearing, “there are no bad alternatives.”
County planners will investigate whether the agreements by which the county bought the land for Retzer would prevent road construction there, said Allison Bussler, Waukesha County director of public works.
Bussler on Wednesday said county planners are sifting through the suggestions gathered during Tuesday’s hearing, and she cannot say which routes will be explored. She said a list of options will be made in late June or early July.
Once the options are narrowed, a work group of municipal, business and community representatives will whittle the list to about three. The remaining options, along with an alternative of building nothing, will be examined in detail as part of the environmental studies for the project.
“If this were an easy project,” Bussler said, “it would have been done years ago.”
Dwyer said the bypass should have been built when the county proposed it in the 1960s, before developments sprouted around Meadowbrook Road. But the city, town and county of Waukesha did not reach an agreement until last year to begin planning for the bypass.
“This has been so long in the offing here,” Dwyer said. “… 50 years ago they were talking about this bypass. It would’ve been logical to do it then, but they couldn’t agree.”