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State 23 environmental impact study finds four-lane expressway needed

Posted by DOUG RAFLIK/USA TODAY NETWORK-WISCONSIN on 16 October 2018 | 0 Comments

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Fond Du Lac - An environmental impact study conducted by the Federal Highway Administration and Wisconsin Department of Transportation found that a four-lane expansion of State 23 is needed for efficiency and safety.

The Federal Highway Administration and Wisconsin Department of Transportation signed the “WIS 23 2018 Limited Scope Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision” Monday, which will allow for “final design and construction” to begin in Fond du Lac and Sheboygan counties, according to a press release from the department.

Construction will begin next summer in Sheboygan County and finish in 2022 in Fond du Lac County.

Wisconsin Department of Transportation Secretary Dave Ross said in a press release that the four-lane expansion “addresses 100 percent of the court’s concerns,” which brought the project to a standstill in 2015. District Judge Lynn Adelman then heard protests from 1000 Friends, an environmental group, and asked for the Department of Transportation, at both the state and federal levels, to conduct a supplemental environmental impact study.

The study was presented to the public at a hearing in June, and many of those who attended supported a $132.6 million four-lane expansion, a sentiment that was also reflected in comments submitted to the departments from 615 of the 700 residents who responded in 2017.

According to the plans, a 19.1-mile stretch of State 23 will be converted to a four-lane “on-alignment divided highway from U.S. 151 in Fond du Lac east to Sheboygan County P in Plymouth,” said the release. 

The highway will be designated as an expressway, which will preserve right-of-way, allowing for any future modifications needed — such as overpasses or interchanges — and the construction process also will allow for the improvement of intersections along the highway. "This is an important step in moving a large overdue project forward," said State Rep. Terry Katsma (R-Oostburg) in a joint statement released by he, Rep. Tyler Vorpagel (R-Plymouth) and Sen. Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) Monday. The statement said that State 23 has been of main concern for the legislators as they worked to make sure the funding needed was in the budget. According to Vorpagel, it has been the main issue constituents ask him about. 

"(State) 23 is an incredibly vital corridor for both residents and businesses. The four lane expansion is crucial to provide much needed safety enhancements," said LeMahieu. 

State Rep. Jeremy Theisfeldt (R-Fond du Lac), said in a statement released Monday he "respectfully requests and encourages" the 1000 Friends of Wisconsin from taking any further legal action that could interfere with the State 23 project. 

“This is hopefully the end of a legal process that has taken far too long, and negatively impacted the lives and health of constituents within and far beyond the 52nd District," he said. 

On Tuesday, the document will be available for reading at the State 23 project’s website, according to the release.