STURTEVANT — Somers and Mount Pleasant residents who live near the Foxconn campus asked the Racine County Board Tuesday to reconsider the scope of a plan to expand Highway KR.
“Foxconn has stopped building,” Penny Johansen, of Somers, who lives at the intersection of highways KR and EA, said. “They are re-evaluating their plan. I am asking you to do the same.”
Nearly 100 residents, most whom are directly impacted by the plant to widen Highway KR, attended the meeting. A resolution “authorizing relocation and acquisition of right-of-way for a highway project” was on the agenda.
Prior to a citizen comment session with a 45-minute time limit, County Board chairman Russell Clark said the resolution would be referred back to the public works and executive committees “for some more work.”
Comments were limited to three minutes, which allowed for a maximum of 15 people to speak. Clark reminded the audience it was “not a sporting event” and there would be no cheering.
“We want to get the information from you that is important for us to know,” Clark said.
Somers resident Esther Roberts, who passed out 170 flyers in an effort to let people know about the meeting, said neighbors from both counties are working together to get their opinions heard.
“Slow this decision down,” Roberts told officials. “Please look at less impactful alternatives.”
DOT’s preferred project
The preferred project presented by the state Department of Transportation last week requires the purchase of 68.9 acres of new right-of-way, affects 14 farms and requires the purchase of five homes. A total of 2.7-acres of floodplain and 7.44 acres of wetlands will also be affected.
Several acknowledged the need for the highway to be upgraded, but questioned the scope and the validity of the traffic count it is based on.
“I feel it is an enormous waste of taxpayer money,” Somers resident Kathy Deverney said. “I, too, question the validity of this study. There has to be a better, less costly solution.”
The DOT’s preferred alternative includes:
Widening Highway KR into a four-lane divided highway with two 12-foot travel lanes in each direction, divided by a median.
Intersection improvements at Highway 31 and Old Green Bay Road.
Realignment of 90th Street with Highway EA (72nd Avenue).
Two railroad overpasses at the Canadian Pacific and Union Pacific rail crossings.
Curb and gutter and detention ponds.
Ten-foot shared-use paths.
Carol Rannow, also of Somers, said the one-foot-wide shoulders and deep ditches along Highway KR are not adequate and Highway KR needs upgrades, but what is being proposed is far more dangerous.
“Reduce the scope,” Rannow said. “This reduces costs and will give us a new roadway that is based on the two types of future potential development along KR — business and residential.”
Leslie Maj, of Mount Pleasant, urged supervisors to “put the safety of residents over commuter convenience.”
Jeannine and Al Brokmeier, of Somers, asked the supervisors to look at all the options, not just the preferred project presented by the DOT and including one created by Jeannine.
“It’s a good plan,” Al Brokmeier said, adding it extends to downtown Racine through vacant land.
Barbara Vaas, of Somers, asked supervisors if the DOT has provided them with the testimony submitted last week and if they have personally spoken to anyone who lives in the impacted area.
A copy of a petition signed by 167 residents signatures calling for the Highway KR reconstruction plan to be re-evaluated, submitted to the DOT, was also presented.
According to information provided by the DOT, right-of-way acquisitions are planned to begin this spring and are expected to be complete by spring of 2020. Construction is planned to begin in the late summer of 2020.
More information on the proposed project can be found at https://projects.511wi.gov/fdr/.