MOUNT PLEASANT — The planned expansion of Highway KR drew considerable scrutiny at a public involvement meeting Thursday regarding upcoming road projects in southeastern Wisconsin.
The open house meeting, hosted by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation at the the Mount Pleasant Village Hall, covered numerous other projects, including Interstate 94, Highway 11 and others, but Highway KR — currently a rural, two-lane road — is proposed to be a six-lane highway to accommodate the Foxconn development.
The Highway KR project is slated to be done in two phases over the next few years, according to Project Manager Steve Hoff. The first phase, running from near the interstate to Highway H, is planned for early next year.
This project includes a 36-foot median and a 10-foot multi-use path on both sides of the highway, each 16 feet from the roadway.
Stoplights will be added at 110th Avenue and near 113th Avenue, and the new roadway will be called “Wisconn Valley Way.”
This phase of the project includes five “residential relocations” on the north side of KR, according to the map.
“Most of that work is technically in Racine County,” Hoff said. “All of the folks that (live to the south of KR) really aren’t being affected with the roadway, per se. Their driveways are staying; the difference being there’s a raised median that’s going in here.”
While plans for the first phase are pretty much solidified, Hoff called the plans for phase two more of a “conceptual design.”
“We’re just getting started. We have some traffic numbers, so we know about how many lanes to put in, but as far as where that road goes, what the alignment is, that’s what we’re working on. That’s what we’re going to find out from people today,” Hoff said.
Phase two will turn KR from Highway H to Old Green Bay Road into a four-lane highway, Hoff said, a change from the department’s initial plans of only going to 90th Street.
“After working with Racine and Kenosha counties … they’re looking for more of a corridor to get to the lake, like a higher speed mobility to the lake. So we extended our project” to Old Green Bay Road, Hoff said.
This phase also includes multi-use paths on both sides from Highway H to 90th Street and then most likely one path on the south side from 90th Street east.
The project includes overpasses over the Canadian Pacific and Union Pacific railroad tracks, which will cut off direct access to KR for some residents.
The Canadian Pacific “is a really busy crossing. There’s 36 trains a day that come here on the Amtrak line and another 16 that are freight.”
The entire KR project will entail approximately 22 residential relocations, according to the maps presented Thursday.
Residents will get another chance to give their input on the plans at public hearings later this year, Hoff said.
In other WisDOT projects, the I-94 project from Highway 142 to Highway G in Racine County is still in the pavement-removal phase, according to Ken Kiepczynski, project manager.
“All of those materials are going to be recycled and reused as new aggregate for the new roadway,” he said. “We also tore up the whole intersection of the East Frontage Road and Highway KR and we’re rebuilding that intersection and hoping to have that done by the end of the month.”
In coming weeks, bridge removal is expected on the northern section of the project.
“We’re also going to start moving a lot of dirt around. The new height of the roadway is changing. So there’ll be a visual distinction between where traffic is and the new roadway is. It’ll be rising in some points at KR about 10 feet,” he said.
Kiepczynski said the interstate should be back to three lanes north and south for the winter, before limitations are put back in place for the spring.
“We’re doing northbound this year, southbound next year,” he said. “Right now, we have a couple of the interchanges closed on the northbound side just because of access. For example, the KR interchange is closed. ... Once we get northbound on its rightful side, that interchange will reopen.”
“We’re just getting started. We have some traffic numbers, so we know about how many lanes to put in, but as far as where that road goes, what the alignment is, that’s what we’re working on. That’s what we’re going to find out from people today.” Steve Hoff, WisDOT Project Manager