Dane County Supervisor Tim Kiefer attended the board meeting in Westport on Monday night to talk about the county’s upcoming budget and take note of concerns the town might have.
He said it’s important to hear from local governments before the budget season begins.
“It’s just a way to be on the agenda so that members of the board can provide their thoughts on the budget,” Kiefer said. “It also provides an opportunity for the public to provide input. So by putting it on the agenda, it just allows for discussion.”
Kiefer also attended the Waunakee Village Board meeting beforehand with many of the same messages
Because the budget season starts in September, Kiefer said the time to talk about things is now. That way, the county might have a better idea what matters are of interest to local municipalities.
“I just want to get input from members of the board and the public,” Kiefer said.
A major point of discussion during Monday night’s meeting was the reconstruction of Hwy. M, an upcoming project that is anticipated to take place within the next few years.
“The county is currently conducting a study to look at options for improving safety and traffic flow on Hwy. M,” Kiefer said. “No definite decisions have been made yet as to any of the options. Public input from the local community is a vital part of the decision-making process.”
Kiefer said a few options are on the table, but that the county wants to hear from Westport first.
Officials have been looking at expanding the road to four lanes as a way to decrease congestion, adding a roundabout at the intersection of Hwy. M and Hwy. K to improve safety at the junction, and installing bike lanes and off-road bike paths to reduce bicycle traffic along the highway are also options.
Town board members expressed support for making M a four-lane highway from Hwy. 113 to Hwy. K, but disapproval for converting it to four lanes any further south than Hwy. K.
“They all said the same,” said town administrator Tom Wilson. “They feel four lanes from 113 to K is needed, but south of that on M into Middleton is not. Improvements to the M/K intersection as well, and perhaps safety improvements as needed on M between K and Q into Middleton.”
Local residents have also been given an opportunity to voice their thoughts regarding the project at public meetings and through communication with the county’s project manager.
“There have already been two public involvement meetings to get public comment,” Kiefer said, “and a third such meeting will be held on a date to be determined this fall. Concerned citizens can also email their comments to project manager Pam Dunphy at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Kiefer said hearing from the town is the only way to know what the people of Westport want.
“Things that go on in local governments can seem kind of boring,” Kiefer said. “But when you work on these things, you can achieve great things for the community.”
It has been projected that reconstruction of Hwy. M could begin as early as 2022.
At the Waunakee Village Board meeting, Kiefer also mentioned that the county board has approved a $148 million jail expansion, calling it the most expansive capital project in the history of Dane County. The jail will be renovated in downtown Madison; it was thought it could be relocated to Dane County law enforcement training center in Westport, but Kiefer said “that is not happening.”
The Dane County Board has also discussed a $300 million upgrade to the Alliant Energy Center, but the Legislature removed $30 million that Gov. Tony Evers had for the project from his budget. Kiefer said he doubted the project would proceed without the state’s contribution.
Other ongoing projects include flood prevention and mitigation measures, Kiefer said, adding that the water table is still high after last August’s floods.
Roberta Baumann contributed to this story.