SOMERS — Residents who live along Highway KR are pleased to see their involvement has resulted in “small wins” as the state Department of Transportation finalizes the second phase of plans to widen the highway from Highway H to Old Green Bay Road.
Project manager Prasad Narayan of the DOT said during a public information meeting Thursday at the Somers Village Hall that planners took previous comments into consideration and made changes to the plan.
Specifically, elevated medians were flattened between the Union Pacific Railroad and 56th Avenue in Somers to allow residents to make both east and west turns onto Highway KR from their properties, and the multi-use trail was rerouted to the north so it does not cross multiple driveways on the south side of Highway KR.
“That’s a win,” said Leslie Maj, who lives on the Racine County side of the highway. “These are things we fought valiantly for. We stood shoulder to shoulder, and they listened.”
Not everything changed
However, there are some changes suggested by residents that were not incorporated into the proposed plans.
For example, Maj said residents made strong arguments that the highway did not need to be as wide as proposed. It is a concern residents continued to voice Thursday.
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Phase 2 includes widening the 2.8-mile stretch of Highway KR from a two-lane rural highway to a four-lane urban highway. Overpasses will replace the two at-grade railroads crossings; new structures will replace the bridge over the Pike River; and a frontage road will be created on the south side of the property to allow property owners near the overpasses to access their driveways.
“I think the main thing most of us are dreading is the two years of living with the mud, the dirt and the disruption during construction,” Maj said.
During Thursday’s presentation, DOT officials said impact to residents and businesses will be minimized during construction by:
- Creating a separate haul route for fill materials.
- Maintaining existing road for local traffic until westbound lanes are constructed.
- Providing a hard surface at all times except when driveways are constructed.
- Establishing contractor staging areas.
- Building a temporary construction railroad crossing to accelerate construction and reduce hauling on local roads.
Concerns about detour routes and emergency access, especially to the Girl Scout camp east of Old Green Bay Road in Somers and a condominium complex that has many senior residents, were raised at the meeting with area officials held prior to the public informational meeting.
Final engineering and right-of-way acquisition is expected to be complete by spring. The plans will be let to bid in July, and construction is planned to begin in August.
It is anticipated that construction will be completed by August 2022.