Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 06 August 2014 20:11
Port Board OKs details of project intended to improve both Highland Drive and county bike trail
The Town of Port Washington on Monday agreed to a plan to improve the Ozaukee Interurban Trail bridge on Highland Drive at an estimated cost of $295,000.
Although expensive, this was the least costly of three options presented to the town by its engineering firm, Ayres Associates.
The other options would require more extensive work and were estimated to cost as much as $325,000.
“This is the cheapest option and it also achieves the safety you want,” Kris Anderson of Ayres told the board.
The plan would eliminate the bridge on Highland Drive north of Town Hall, lowering the grade of the road by 3-1/2 feet to improve sight lines for both motorists and bicyclists.
Town Clerk Jenny Schlenvogt questioned whether the reduction in grade was enough to improve safety, noting motorists “fly” through the area at 55 mph or more.
Anderson said it will bring the road into accordance with state requirements.
“There will still be a hill there,” she said. “But it will be a gentler hill.”
Another alternative is for the town to reduce the speed limit, Anderson said.
Town Supr. Jim Rychtik noted the plan will improve safety, widen the road but have the least impact on surrounding properties.
“I think that makes a lot more sense,” he said.
“The lower you go, the wider the road has to be. I trust Ayres when they say 3-1/2 feet is enough. It’s dangerous because it’s narrow and you can’t see. The road is deteriorating. And with the box culvert the way it is, something has to be done.”
Town Supr. Mike Didier said, “I don’t know why you have to do anything but the cheapest option.”
The board will now have Ayres finalize plans for the work, then obtain cost estimates from the Ozaukee County Highway Department.
If the estimate is deemed higher than desired, the town can still opt to bid the project, officials said.
Who does the work will determine when the project is done, they added.
Ozaukee County would likely do the work in conjunction with improvements to the bike trail, which it is expected to do this fall.
If a private contractor is hired, the town will likely seek bids this fall and have the work done in spring.
Depending on cost, the town could opt to delay paving the road for a season, Rychtik said. That would allow the new road time to settle and give the town more time to come up with the money.