The Madison Area Transportation Planning Board has approved the first phase of the Hwy. M improvement project. Construction could begin in the fall of 2023.

The estimated cost would be $21,867,000.

Dane County Deputy Commissioner Pam Dunphy said first-phase improvements are contingent on $12.46 million in federal funding from the Surface Transportation Program – Urban (STP-U).

“We’re expecting to get federally funded (by) an STP-Urban Program that the state administers,” Dunphy said. “They have the final approval…I don’t think we’d move forward without the federal funding, because it’s a very big project.”

According to the Wisconsin DOT website, federal assistance would depend on eligibility.

“The objective of the STP-U is to improve federal-aid-eligible highways within urban areas,” it states. “Counties, towns, cities, villages and certain public authorities located within urbanized areas are eligible for funding on roads functionally classified as urban ‘collector’ or higher.”

If approved, the county would have no more than six and a half years to construct the project. Any delay in the design phase could jeopardize the county’s claim to federal funding.

“This WisDOT sunset policy was implemented in the 2011-2014 program cycle,” the website states, “(to) ensure statewide funding provided by Congress and the state Legislature for local improvements is utilized within a reasonable timeframe.”

Dunphy said the first phase would focus on the stretch of road from Hwy. 113 to Oncken Road.

“The first phase of construction would be from Oncken through 113,” Dunphy said. “Because the project design isn’t done yet, we’re not sure exactly of everything that will need to take place but we’re expecting (it to be) a four-lane highway with intersection improvements.”

The deputy commissioner said improvements would also include a park-and-ride lot at Hwy. K, on-road bike facilities and an off-road path for both bicycles and pedestrians.

Final design has been scheduled to begin in the spring of 2020.

Two informational meetings have been held to gather public input, and a third is set to take place on Nov. 13 at the Holy Wisdom Monastery. Dunphy said she anticipates a healthy attendance.

“We’ve had great participation at the public informational meetings that we had,” Dunphy said. “And we’ve had great participation at all the neighborhood-association and other group meetings we have had between the public informational meetings…So I’m hoping we get a good turnout.”

Those with questions about the project should visit the Department of Public Works, Highway and Transportation website at pwht.countyofdane.com/hw_engineer/projects/CTH-M-Planned.

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