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Madison dials down power plant roadwork demands

University of Wisconsin-Madison planners do not expect major road reconstruction to be necessary on the streets surrounding the Charter Street power plant, according to a UW-Madison official. (Map by Rick Benedict/The Daily Reporter)

University of Wisconsin-Madison planners do not expect major road reconstruction to be necessary on the streets surrounding the Charter Street power plant, according to a UW-Madison official. (Map by Rick Benedict/The Daily Reporter)

By Paul Snyder

Madison traffic planners are backing off a directive to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to rebuild streets and intersections surrounding the Charter Street power plant.

But Bryan Walker, the citys engineering program specialist, said the university and city should be ready for some roadwork during and after the estimated $250 million conversion of the plant from coal to biomass, natural gas and oil.

“We’re trying to avoid throwing something in their lap,” he said. “If adjustments to the road are needed, then it can be discussed.”

According to a city planning report, the Traffic Engineering Department originally required UW-Madison reconstruct and widen West Dayton, North Mills, North Charter and Spring streets and upgrade their intersections around the plant. The requirement was based on the expectation that the conversion would increase truck traffic around the plant.

John Harrod, director of the UW-Madison Physical Plant, said the city’s request was a “broad-brush response” to the project. He said university planners will be working on transportation issues in the next three months and will keep city planners apprised of the discussions.

Construction at the power plant is expected to begin in fall.

But university planners do not expect major road reconstruction to be necessary, Harrod said, because many biomass deliveries will be made by train. UW-Madison officials expect to spend up to $12 million to upgrade tracks near the plant.

With a $250 million budget, Harrod said, planners are trying to hold as closely to that total as possible and have not figured in costs for any roadwork surrounding the plant.

Walker said the city does not have estimates for road reconstruction. He said the city report on the project was demanding but still served notice to university planners.

“They saw it and said, ‘Whoa, what’s all this about?'” Walker said. “But we met with them and explained where we’re coming from. It’s still pretty early to make any final decisions right now.”

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