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Delays haunt Muskego road project

By Sean Ryan

The nine-year promise that secondary developments will follow the reconstruction and expansion of Janesville Road in Muskego will have to wait another year.

Waukesha County was shooting for a 2011 start date for the $25 million project, but last year’s decision to pursue a state grant means the county needs another year for planning and engineering studies to satisfy state and federal permitting rules.

“It’s difficult to get any economic growth or developers to move out there right now because, one, the project is still looming out there and they want to come in at the tail end and, two, it’s not very attractive,” said Kathy Chiaverotti, executive director of the Muskego Area Chamber of Commerce.

The planned road project would rebuild the 2.5-mile stretch of Janesville Road between Moorland Road and Racine Avenue and widen it from two to four lanes.

The project has been in the county’s long-range capital plans since 2001, and traffic volume on the street has exceeded capacity since 2003.

Waukesha County will spend 2010 pursuing a $5.9 million grant through the state’s Surface Transportation Program, and that will push construction to 2012 and 2013, said Gary Evans, Waukesha County engineering services manager.

“It’s a larger project,” he said, “and finding capacity within our budget to do it has kind of pushed it back some.”

To get the state grant, Waukesha County must, among other requirements, predict the amount of noise and emissions cars will generate on the road, Evans said. He said the application process should be done by the end of 2010.

Keith Werner, Muskego alderman who represents a portion of the project area, said the delay pushes back the realization of Janesville Road becoming Muskego’s new downtown. Werner said he is trying to turn potential into reality by supporting a study of buying land north of Janesville Road at the intersection with Pioneer Road.

Werner said he envisions the city buying the roughly 5-acre parcel, creating a public beach where the land fronts Little Lake Muskego and developing mixed-use buildings on the rest of the site, which he calls City Center.

“The potential is there,” Werner said.

He said the land can be offered to businesses on Janesville Road that will have to move to make room for the road expansion.

“My goal is to try to keep businesses in the city of Muskego, and my thought process is: How do we do that and where can we put them?” Werner said. “And how do we rejuvenate the downtown district because several years ago Janesville Road was the downtown.”

Chiaverotti said it will be disappointing to again delay the long-planned road project.

“The most concrete we ever had was that construction schedule of ’11 and ’12,” she said.

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