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Co. Highway Okays Modified BB Project

After a contentious public information meeting and review of written comments from residents, the Marinette County Highway Committee approved the following resolution on the CTH BB project: Motion (Policello/Kaufman) to approve Robert E. Lee to begin Phase II of the CTH BB rehabilitation project design between Pond Road and University Drive, to widen the roadway to incorporate 3’ paved shoulders as proposed, include ditching but investigate alternatives where applicable, remove right of way obstructions, investigate & review culvert replacements were applicable and to investigate ditching alternatives where proximity to buildings is an issue. Motion carried.

The Wednesday, April 17 meeting began with three Town of Peshtigo residents wishing to address the Committee.

John Sturdy asked for clarification on what he thought he had heard at the public meeting, especially as it related to replacing culverts under Shore Drive. He hoped that this wasn’t going to be the case. He also asked about the rerouting of utilities and the expense of installing culverts under all the driveways.

Gordon Wicklund commented on the Public Meeting and that he thought many of the comments made by his fellow residents were very disrespectful, so much so that he left the meeting early. He also asked about the status of patching and pothole filling on BB. Some sections are getting dangerous. He was assured that the road would be patched and filled as soon as the weather allowed it.

Wicklund also chastised the County Board and the Highway Committee for what he saw as neglect of duty in delaying the CTH BB project for as long as they did. He also asked about the plans for the rest of BB, from Pond Road to CTH B.

Herman Pottratz asked the Committee members and the entire County Board about developing a resolution on the Expressway designation plans for Hwys 41/141 in Marinette and Oconto Counties.

Pottratz, too, questioned the design plan to install what he saw as excess culverts and ditching.

When the BB project came up on the agenda, Dale Marsh from Robert E. Lee and Associates summarized the feedback received on the project presentation given April 3 at Little River Country Club. Over 300 residents along CTH BB and in the Town of Peshtigo were notified with 177 people signed in at the Information Meeting and 37 took the time to fill out written comments.

Marsh noted that 56 percent of the respondents favored widening the roadway including the walkway/paved shoulder and 44 percent were not in favor of it. Nine people favored allowing dual access ways to their property. Four people commented that they were only in favor of resurfacing the roadway. Two people asked if all of the utilities could be buried beneath ground. And one each asked for reduced speed on the highway or for the county not to clear any of the right-of-way.

County Supervisor Don Pazynski, representing Wards 2 and 3 of the Town of Peshtigo on the County Board, asked to speak stating most of the phone calls he received, about 12 in all, were against all the ditching and driveway culverts were planned. He also rejected the claim about parts of the roadway having a drainage problem. He urged compromise on drainage and cosmetics of the construction.

As a matter of protecting his company, Marsh said he had to recommend the county adopt the state’s County Road Standards for the construction work on CTH BB. If the county goes against the recommendation and something fails, he doesn’t want the county going after the firm.

What became very evident, however, to anyone who was at the public information meeting and this meeting of the Highway Committee is that there is, at times, a major discrepancy between what some of the residents who live along the highway want and what the state’s standards demand for highway construction. It has also become evident that not everyone who has a driver’s license is also a licensed civil engineer.

To the point of the culverts, Highway Commissioner Ray Palonen talked about possible ways of minimizing culvert installations under the driveways on the bay side of the roadway. The unique topological features of each property may also allow very minimal contouring of the ditch area to accomplish water run-off. Marsh agreed that many parcels on the east side of the road already have a natural slope towards the bay and that these parcels would be ideal candidates that would not need culverts.

It was stated again that the plans for much of the roadway are to maintain a ditch that is two feet below the top of the road surface. Construction plans are to raise the roadway by about six inches above the current surface along the entire route.

It was agreed that when most people hear the word ditch, they think of the deep ditches along CTH Y or CTH G. This is not the plan for CTH BB. Most of the roadway already has the necessary ditch depth. Those few areas that don’t will have the slope modification done so that the gradual undulation is worked into the construction in a very natural way.

As to the concerns about raising the roadway, Palonen explained that it is being planned because most of the road does not have an adequate base to support the traffic that is already out there.

Furthermore, the number one reason for ditches is to keep the base area well drained. This prevents frost heaving and sinkage areas. Yes, it was agreed that for most of the route the soil is very sandy, which allows visible water to soak in very easily. But what impact will raising the roadbed six inches have? What impact will the three extra feet of impervious road surface on each side have on drainage? What effect will a proper crown on the road to promote water run-off have during periods of quick thaw or heavy rain? This is why maintaining a two foot ditch in most areas is important.

This led to a discussion about how some areas along the roadway may benefit best from the installation of curb and gutter to accomplish what needs to be done, or perhaps even specialized drains.

After passage of the resolution at the start of this article, the Committee urged Marsh to keep in mind aesthetics and the concerns about the road in properties along the road as the project continues.

Tony Ziebert from the Pemenee River Riders Snowmobile/ATV Club was present at the meeting to bring a request to use a segment of CTH L from BBR Road to Hwy 141 as a designated snowmobile/ATV/UTV route. The roadway is about a half a mile long. The request stems from the cabin and property owners along BBR Road, a private road. With the request came the assurance that the club would be responsible for signage and patrol. The club favored staying on the pavement for the route and not using the shoulder, which can be very destructive.

The Committee informed Ziebert that requests like these are normally discussed very briefly by the Highway Committee before they are whisked away to be placed on the agenda of the County’s Traffic Safety Committee. Ziebert was informed of when the next meeting of that committee would be.

The Committee approved authorizing payment to the Town of Beaver for bridge aid for the 17th Road culvert replacements for a total cost of $9,680.94. The payment had already been applied for and budgeted in the county’s budget. This motion was just authorization to pay the bill.

Committee approval was given to recommend to the County Board that the county enter into a Local Force Account agreement with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to install an asphalt overlay on hwy 64 to correct rutting. This contract would be above and beyond the routine maintenance agreement the county already has with the state. The location of the overlay is basically in selected spots between CTH W and CTH E, with other sections closer to Hwy 141.

As discussed and approved at the last meeting of the Highway Committee, final approval was given to enter into an agreement with the State to install AVL/GPS units in the eight county trucks that are assigned to the state highway plowing routes. There is no cost to the county for the units other than the wireless service. Marinette County is one of the last counties in the state to install these units.

In his Commissioner’s report, Palonen reported that he has begun working on updating the Capital Improvement Plan requests from the Highway Department. All of the requests from the various county departments are synthesized by the County Board into a sing plan of action for each of the next five years.

The Highway Supervisors updated the Committee on some of their recent work. When not plowing, they have been doing some rubberized crack filling on Hwys 64 and 141 for the state. Brush cutting continues to be done along various state and county highways. Lots and lots and lots of patching and pothole filling is being and will be done. The crews have also been doing some of the annual rite of litter gathering along state and county highways.

The Committee then approved paying the bills, approving the Schedule of Invoices totaling $54,203.07. Almost half that amount was to refill the fuel tanks at the three highway shops.


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