A proposed construction project on U.S. Highway 51 could have significant impacts on some residents of McFarland and Stoughton.
The project by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) would completely restructure the section of the highway that runs through both the village of McFarland and city of Stoughton.
The highway as it is now would be entirely removed, with all new infrastructure put in its place. A media release from WisDOT listed the following improvements as the main components of its proposal:
- Reconstruction of two lane U.S. 51 east of Stoughton
- Reconstruction of existing U.S. 51 through Stoughton
- Urban four lane reconstruction and capacity expansion along the west side of Stoughton
- Reconstruction of rural two lane U.S. 51 Stoughton to McFarland with intersection improvements
- Urban four lane reconstruction in McFarland
- Pavement replacement between Larson Beach Road and Terminal Drive/Voges Road in McFarland, Siggelkow Road interchange ramp improvements, and addition of an auxiliary lane in each direction north of Siggelkow Road
“It is also anticipated that the relocation of two residential households will occur as a result of the proposed improvement,” said Jeff Berens, a major studies project manager at WisDOT.
McFarland Village Administrator Matt Schuenke said the project would significantly impact how people come and go from the village, as well as how the community interacts with the highway. He is encouraging community members to contact WisDOT with any concerns.
“Residents should make themselves aware of the plans and provide WisDOT with public comment on the project,” Schuenke said. “If they feel so inclined, they can request a public hearing.”
A public hearing would bring WisDOT staff together with members of the public to answer questions and retain feedback in a public forum, most likely to be held online due to COVID-19.
Schuenke said that while there are a few upsides to the project, the village has already brought some major concerns to WisDOT’s attention.
“It’s nice to see the road reconstructed, but there are concerns the village has raised with WisDOT they still have not accounted for. They will be changing our access to the highway, controlling turning movements and limiting interaction with local businesses, to name a few,” Schuenke explained.
The project has been in the works for years, with the McFarland Village Board going on the record as early as fall of 2019 in opposition of the proposal.
Despite the village’s attempt to communicate with WisDOT, Schuenke said the state has continued to move forward without addressing the village’s concerns. He hopes an influx of public comments will be the push they need to get WisDOT’s attention.
Comments and concerns regarding the reconstruction proposal can be sent to WisDOT via U.S. mail, or by email, to the following address: Jeff Berens, P.E. WisDOT SW Region 2101 Wright Street Madison, WI, 53704 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Further details and maps of the construction proposal can be found at https://wisconsindot.gov/Documents/projects/by-region/sw/5139901218/map-overview.pdf.
“We want to work with the state, but not at the cost of our residents,” Schuenke said. “We will continue to push them to address the problems with their plan and hope others will review the plan in order to raise their objections as they see them.”