“Unfortunately it’s the best way, short of a bypass. It’s less convenient, but I’m not convinced it’s more of a safety factor.” – David Rasmussen, Walworth Village Board president

By Edwin Scherzer

Correspondent

One thing is certain after last week’s open house meeting concerning reconstruction and resurfacing of Highway 14 in Walworth, one of the parties involved will have to yield to the other.

After a nearly three-year process, Mike Pyritz, DOT communications specialist, says there are really only two plans considered viable for submission to the federal level.

“At first we started with a 30,000 foot view, everything was possible,” he said. “Now as you can see, we really have a plan that makes for a smoother traffic flow.”

The flow that Pyritz refers to is really at the heart of a commercial, community and emotional matter for citizens of Walworth and freight trucks using the state highway.

Walworth Jt. 1 school district officials disagree with the Village board’s unanimous approval of the new highway plan.

They pointed at display boards clearly showing traffic will now pass within 38 feet of the school building.

To illustrate their point, school board officials placed a semi in the parking lot showing just how close the issue and traffic involves the school.

District Administrator Pam Knorr says the school district’s position is clear.  “It’s a travesty, and we will oppose that plan.”

“This plan only makes it safer for trucks,” she added.

A bypass around the town was brought up early on but dismissed by DOT officials and others.

“The proposed bypass did not meet any standards, and would have extended outside of Walworth Township, meaning other entities would be involved.” Pyritz explained.

School Board President Linda Freeman insists that the proposed plan hurts more than the school.

“There are not only concerns about safety, but also the environment from truck exhaust,” she argued. “This plan is not good for Walworth and not good for Jt. 1.”

School officials got the community involved and submitted over 750 signatures in a petition.

They also sent letters to Governor Scott Walker, State Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb, State Sen. Neal Kedzie and other lawmakers.

Citizens and school staff attending the forum remain passionate about the issue, however the school’s remaining options may have hit a dead end.

“We have our lawyer involved” Knorr said.

Walworth Village President David Rasmussen was matter of fact when discussing the issue.

“Unfortunately it’s the best way, short of a bypass.”   He points out that he attended the school as well as his children.  “It’s less convenient, but I’m not convinced it’s more of a safety factor.”

The next phase in the process will involve another meeting with all parties, compiling the input gathered from the open house meeting, then ultimately submitting the approved plan to the federal level.

 

 
 

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