KENOSHA — The Kenosha County Board approved the plat for the Highway KR expansion project Tuesday night.

The expansion includes a 2.8-mile stretch of Highway KR, from Highway H to just east of Old Green Bay Road. The project will generally create a four-lane divided roadway, divided by a median.

Supervisors confirmed the plat by a vote of 14-7.

County Board Supervisor Terry Rose spoke in favor of the plat because he believes it will create “economic development” for the area.

“Whether Foxconn develops as originally anticipated is still to be determined, but I believe that this will spur economic development,” he said.

County Board Supervisor Michael Skalitzky voted no, saying he still wants to learn more about the project.

“What they (citizens) are simply asking for is a compromise,” he said. “They (citizens) even said they aren’t against this road; they’re against the size of it. They have asked for a slow down of the process.”

Several supervisors asked for the vote to either be tabled or referred back to committee; however, the vote took place as this was the last meeting of the current County Board.

Racine County will consider approval of their portion of the plat during a meeting on April 25.

Citizens concerns

Ten citizens from Racine and Kenosha Counties spoke in disapproval of the plat during the public hearing portion of the meeting.

The two main concerns citizens had dealt with the footprint of the plat for the project, and the current speed limits planned for the expansion.

Kevin Rannow, a Somers resident, has remained a vocal opponent of the project from the beginning. He asked supervisors to “do their homework,” regarding designs for the project.

“This highway design has evolved from a four-lane road into something that isn’t recognizable,” he said. “After this vote your job is not over. … Be responsive to citizens during the project.”

Kathy Dahl has lived in her home on Highway KR for 20 years. She said she feels that the new speed limit, which will currently remain at 45 mph, is “overkill.”

“(We) moved to the county for a reason: green space, not a cement wall,” Dahl said. “We have been respectful. We ask that the speed and footprint of the new KR be reduced.”

Kim Mahoney, another vocal opponent of the plat who lives in Mount Pleasant, called the plans for KR a “super highway.”

“I implore you to do the right thing here. Send the KR plat back to the DOT and design a road that is appropriate for a residential area,” she said.

Penny Johnansen lives on the corner of Highway KR and EA. She also spoke in disapproval of the current plat.

“These are life-changing decisions you are making here tonight,” she said.{/span}

The plat

The plat for the project was narrowly approved during a joint meeting of the county’s Public Works and Facilities and the Finance and Administration committees last Thursday night.

Although design plans can be modified by the design team, the overall footprint of the project will not be modified.

The County KR-Phase 2 project, as it is being called by the state Department of Transportation, must be approved by both Racine and Kenosha counties as it lies outside the Foxconn Electronics and Information Technology Manufacturing zone. The counties are therefore responsible for right-of-way acquisition and relocations, according to the state.

Kenosha Department of Public Works Director Ray Arbet gave a presentation regarding the footprint and current design plans during the joint meeting last Thursday. He, along with members of the DOT, addressed specific concerns supervisors and community members had regarding the project.

Of these concerns, median size, shoulder size, speed limits and two railway overpasses were discussed. Arbet said that median sizes were reduced from 36 feet to 30 feet along heavier traffic areas on the highway. He added that the speed limit will likely not be lowered to 25 or 35 mph at certain areas where there are more houses as well, as the design team say that the lane additions will provide safer roads.

He discussed the railroad overpasses, adding that the overpasses will eliminate traffic backups and help with response times for emergency services.

The expansion would also include improvements to the intersection at Highway 31 and Old Green Bay Road, a new frontage road for access to homes located near the tracks and shared-use paths for bikes and pedestrians.