Franklin elected officials on Saturday voted 4-3 to spend $500,000 to get the Drexel Avenue interchange built.
City aldermen tied on their vote, requiring Mayor Tom Taylor to cast the tie-breaker to approve spending money on the project.
The resolution dedicates the city to spend $500,000 in tax-incremental financing money to build new street lights on 27th Street. If Franklin does not do the lighting project, the state would have to pay for it. The resolution requires that, in exchange for doing the project, the state must agree to build the Drexel interchange without any direct payment from Franklin.
The tax districts let municipalities borrow money for projects and pay off the debt with the increased property taxes generated by the new development.
The state is requiring local governments pay for half of the $12.9 million project because traffic on local streets in Oak Creek and Franklin is generating the need for the new interchange. Oak Creek this week agreed to spend $4.4 million in tax-incremental financing money on the project, and Northwestern Mutual, which has a building near the site, agreed to give $1.6 million.
The resolution approved Saturday replaces an earlier proposal by Taylor that would have dedicated $350,000 to the project and required Oak Creek to widen Drexel Avenue from two to four lanes within its city borders.
Alderwoman Kristen Wilhelm, who voted against the resolution, said she does not want to commit money to support the interchange project without a guarantee that Oak Creek will widen Drexel Avenue. Without four lanes on Drexel leading into Franklin, drivers coming of the interchange will not go into the city, she said.
“The cost of the Drexel reconstruction to move toward Franklin is an unknown,” she said, “and there’s no guarantee, and there’s no vote, and there’s no budget, and I still have a big concern about that.”
Ald Tim Solomon Drexel inevitably be rebuilt and widened. He said the cost of the interchange will only increase if the project is delayed. Those cost increases will make the project impossible to do in the future, he said.
“Without this interchange, it’s not going to help us,” Solomon said. “We need this interchange. Development tomorrow, its not going to happen in this economy, but 10 years from now, it’s going to help a lot.”