A Deerfield Village Board letter-writing effort, that pushed for a reinstated original reconstruction timeline for State Highway 73 through the village, has caught the attention of the state Department of Transportation.

Village Adminstrator Elizabeth McCredie told the Village Board on Jan. 14, that she has in recent days spoken to a DOT official who may attend an upcoming board meeting.

The Village Board sent a letter to the DOT in December, objecting to the state agency’s decision to move the reconstruction of 1.7 miles of the highway, which is also Deerfield’s Main Street, back two years, from 2021 to 2023. A letter also went to elected state officials and to Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.

The work in 2023 would stretch from Shaul Lane to North Street, and is expected to shut down Main Street to all but local traffic for about two weeks and involve lane closures and flagging operations before and after that.

Village officials have particularly objected to Deerfield’s stretch being rescheduled to 2023, while 7.4 miles of State Highway 73 from North Street in Deerfield to School Street in Marshall remains on the DOT’s schedule to be redone in 2021. Deerfield officials have questioned why the entire stretch can’t be done at once.

DOT officials, at meetings in Deerfield in September and October, said the work through Deerfield is being delayed in part due to the need to purchase property along Main Street to enlarge existing sidewalk curb cuts and build some new curb cuts to meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

McCredie told the Village Board on Jan. 14 that the DOT official she spoke with may attend a board meeting in late January or early February.

The DOT has said that Dane County is responsible for maintaining the highway through Deerfield in the interim, but the extent to which the county might temporarily patch the road through 2023 hasn’t been clear.

Dane County Board Supervisor Bob Salov, who has announced he’s not seeking re-election in April after 24 years in that elected role, attended the Jan. 14 meeting and listened as village officials expressed their displeasure with the process.

Salov responded that DOT officials who have visited Deerfield in recent months “didn’t deliver,” when pushed to reinstate the original timeline. Salov acknowledge he doesn’t have an answer to how the DOT might be persuaded to change its mind.

“I don’t know how to impact that,” Salov said, adding that “I don’t think they’re going to budge. It’s a little frustrating.”

Salov also responded to feelings expressed by village officials, that rural areas of Dane County don’t get as much attention by the county as urban and sururban areas. Village Board members pointed, for instance, to the significant amount of money spent in recent years on Madison Beltline upgrades and improvements to the Verona Road intersection with U.S. Highway 12-18.

“I think this is part of rural living in Dane County, sometimes I think you get shortchanged,” Salov said. “I can’t tell you how many meetings I go to and I go ‘What about Deerfield, what about Cambridge?’”

Storm water improvements

In a related matter, the Village Board voted Jan. 14 to direct its contracted engineer, Town & Country Engineering, of Madison, to work with the DOT on a design upgrade for the intersection of South Industrial Park Road and North Main Street.

The changes, envisioned to include storm water improvements and widening of the intersection by 5 feet to allow semi-trucks to turn without crossing into the opposing lane of traffic, would be incorporated into the DOT’s State Highway 73 construction project in 2023.

Firetrucks also “have a hard time making that corner,” Village President Greg Frutiger said.

The DOT would do the work and bill the village back for the cost, village officials said.

Village Public Works Director John Doyle said he expects soon to have an estimate of what the intersection upgrade would cost. Doyle said the work will likely ultimately be less expensive if done by the DOT than the if the village did it alone, because of the economy of scale the DOT has with a major highway project happening in Deerfield.

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