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North Avenue widening plans rankle residents

July 22, 2014

A proposed expansion of North Avenue in the city of Brookfield will double the road width and may be expanded to include a median.

North Avenue between the eastern edge of Waukesha County and Calhoun Road is as a two-lane road; however, the county's Department of Public Works plans to widen it to four-lanes, because of high traffic.

"The traffic count (for this stretch) is over 20,000 vehicles per day. The threshold that we usually use is about 18,000," Waukesha County Director of Public Works Allison Busler said. "We're already surpassing that today."

The plan has raised concerns among some residents who fear that construction will disrupt their property.

Brookfield resident Carla Marone last week expressed her concerns to the common council.

"North Avenue is a beautiful street now for everyone who drives on it. What will this do to the ecology, who knows?" Malone said.

Busler noted that the design has not yet been determined and stated her department will remain in contact with citizens concerned over the pending project as it pans out.

City of Brookfield Mayor Steve Ponto believes it may be too early to get worried about the project.

"I think it's going to be important to consult with people at the time that this is constructed, but we're talking years down the pipe," Ponto said. "I'm certainly sensitive to the concerns of the residents who have homes just off of North Avenue."

The project has been talked about since 2008. Busler said it is currently slated to be completed in two phases and will cost over $25 million.

Phase one will expand North Avenue from Waukesha County's eastern border to Pilgrim roads. That portion is expected to cost $17.4 million.

The second phase will widen it from Pilgrim to Calhoun road. The county has budgeted $8.4 million for this portion.

"This is a significant project. The amount of traffic is the driving factor, and it will of course improve safety and improve access for residents that live along the route," Busler said.

The first phase is slated to be designed in 2015, land acquisition in 2016-2017, and construction in 2018. The timeline for phase two calls for design in 2016-17, land acquisition in 2017-18, and construction in 2020.

"We hope to have everything finished in 2020," Busler said.

Busler noted that the county may also decide to insert a median on North, but that decision has not yet been made.

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