COUNTY BOARD MEETING HIGHWAY KR COMMENTS

Kathy Dahl, left, voices her opinion on the Highway KR widening project during Tuesday night’s County Board meeting. Despite objections from residents, the board approved the overall plat for the project.

COUNTY BOARD MEETING HIGHWAY KR COMMENTS

Residents who live along Highway KR are remaining vocal about their disapproval of plans to renovate and expand the highway.

Ten Racine and Kenosha residents urged Kenosha County supervisors to learn more about the Highway KR expansion project before they voted on the proposal during a Kenosha County Board meeting Tuesday night.

The two main concerns voiced were the footprint for the project and the speed limits planned for the expansion.

Supervisors confirmed the proposal by a vote of 14-7 Tuesday.

Kevin Rannow, a Somers resident, has been 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.”

Residents are worried that the speed limit will pose a safety hazard for homeowners who live along the highway.

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

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

After the vote, Dahl said she was “very disappointed,” adding that she felt “lied to and misled” regarding plans for the project.

The vote

County Board supervisors Zach Rodriguez, Gabe Nudo, Jeff Wamboldt, Michael Skalitzky, John Poole, Erin Decker and Mark Nordigian voted no on the measure.

Supervisors Joseph Cardinali and Mike Goebel were absent.

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

Kim Mahoney, another vocal opponent 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 at the meeting.

After the vote, Mahoney called the decision “high-handed politics.”

Penny Johnansen lives at the intersection Highway KR and Highway EA. She also spoke in disapproval of the plan.

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

The plan

The project 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 roadway, divided by a median.

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 week.

The County KR-Phase 2 project, as it is being called by the Wisconsin 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.

Last week, Kenosha Department of Public Works Director Ray Arbet and DOT representatives 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 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 the design team said the lane additions will provide safer roads.

He said the railroad 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.

Racine County will consider approval of its portion of the project during a meeting on April 25.

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