Over the past few months, the proposal to expand Highway KR to four lanes has been contentious.
The proposal on the table at the moment is to widen a 2.8-mile stretch of Highway KR from 400 feet east of Highway H to just east of Taylor Avenue (Old Green Bay Road on the Kenosha County side).
It would widen from a two-lane rural road to a four-lane urban road with a median, wider shoulders and a walking path.
That is part of a bigger plan to eventually expand the highway to four lanes from Interstate 94 to Highway 32, which would provide a direct route to both Racine and Kenosha.
Naturally, residents who live along KR are not happy. Some will have to move and many others will lose a large chunk of their land.
But when Highway 20 and Highway 11 expanded and I-94 was built, undoubtably the same concerns came up.
KR should be expanded and create a quicker, easier way for residents and visitors to get into Racine and Kenosha.
It’s about 10 miles from the Interstate into Downtown Racine and it usually takes about 20 minutes. It takes so long largely because of the number of stop lights. If KR could be designed as the quick route into the cities, the number of lights could be reduced to create the best, quickest route.
Many homeowners in the area have also brought up concerns about Foxconn. The thought among many is that this is only widening because of the company, which some are concerned will not come to fruition, or it will not be as large as planned.
As Somers resident Carol Rannow told Racine County Board supervisors at a recent meeting: “You represent the citizens — not the DOT, not Foxconn, not contractors.”
But this project is about a lot more than Foxconn.
No matter what happens with Foxconn, expanding KR would be in the best interest of both Racine and Kenosha counties. While it’s easy to zoom by both counties along I-94 on the way to and from Illinois or Milwaukee, both counties have a lot to offer for drivers willing to drive east for 10 miles.
Businesses are tending to build closer to the Interstate, but many still remain inland and they need quick routes in and out to the Interstate.
In addition, the existing roadway handles 9,000 to 9,500 vehicles per day, according to DOT estimates, and that number is expected to double by 2042. The project area has no bike or pedestrian paths, and there is a high rate of car crashes in the area — 140.2 crashes per 100 million vehicle miles, while the state threshold is 115.9 crashes per 100 million vehicle miles.
Even if the widening is not done now, it will eventually need to happen.
It’s easy to understand why families don’t want to move or lose their property, but expanding Highway KR would be good for all of Racine and Kenosha counties.