Officials call property an eyesore but owner says he is being singled out
A much wider and smoother Falls Road — a major thoroughfare through the village and town of Grafton that has been closed since April 27 — is expected to reopen Friday, July 31, two weeks ahead of schedule.
The road has been closed from Port Washington Road to Blackhawk Drive with only residents who live in the area allowed access.
It isn’t prettier, Village Engineer Dave Murphy said, but it is safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists.
“Basically, it’s a sea of asphalt,” he said. “It’s going to create a safe condition for people to walk and bike there.”
A water main was installed the full length of the road project, but storm and sanitary sewer lines were only extended from Blackhawk to Cheyenne Avenue.
The completed road is not what village officials originally envisioned with sidewalks on both sides, but the more rural design is one that town and village officials agreed upon in late November to end a 10-year stalemate. The costs and funding plan were also agreed to at that time.
The town will pay $218,000 toward the $1.09 million project. Town residents who live along the stretch will be assessed for the work when the property is annexed to the village.
“This has been 10 years in the making. Significant discussions between the town and village have occurred over the years and several joint meetings,” Village Administrator Darrell Hofland said.
“Compromises were made on both sides. The opening symbolizes that the town and village can work together.”
The road was widened 16 feet to create two 11-foot-wide driving lanes, an eight-foot-wide paved multi-purpose trail on the south side, a five-foot buffer separating the trail from eastbound traffic and a three-foot-wide paved shoulder along the westbound lane.
The three-foot shoulder will be marked next spring for use by westbound bicyclists when the final layer of asphalt is installed, Hofland said.
The final lift of asphalt will be installed next spring to allow for any settling due to the underground utility work.
“There will be only minimal road markings this year for that reason,” Hofland said. “There will be more extensive road markings after the final lift.”
After the road is completed, a bumper strip will be installed in the five-foot buffer to warn motorists who drift into the area and protect pedestrians, Hofland said.
Signs were erected prohibiting semi-trailer trucks and other large vehicles on the road unless working on projects in the area. That has been the case all along, Murphy said, but signs were not posted.
The final layer of asphalt will probably be installed in June after schools are closed for the summer, Murphy said. He expects the road to be closed for one week at that time.
Last month, road construction crews complained that motorists who didn’t live in the area were using the road, making it hazardous to work there.
Police Chief Charles Wenten told his officers to patrol the area and issue warnings to those ignoring road closure signs.
Many warning citations were issued during the first few weeks, Wenten said, but to his knowledge no one was issued a ticket.
“Drivers soon caught on that the police department was providing surveillance and traffic quickly became limited to residents and it became a safer construction zone for the contractor,” Hofland said.
One thing that didn’t change is the 25 mph speed limit, he said.
“With the nice, even, smooth surface it may be tempting to increase the speed,” he said, “but the speed limit is the same.”