A four-lane plan for Highway M from Highway Q to Highway 113 is moving forward with the Dane County Board hiring out for a project design

The project, officials say will free up traffic congestion and improve intersections at highways K and M and put in bike lanes to make the road safer and less of a hassle for drivers and bicyclists

The Madison-based KL Engineering Inc. bid of $719,300 was OK’d by the Dane County Board at its June 8 meeting.

John Becker, from Capital Region Advocacy Network for Environmental Sustainability (CRANES) spoke in opposition of awarding the contract, asking the board if there was a need for a four-lane expansion, or if options like roundabouts could solve the congestion.

“I have talked to other municipalities with similar issues of overcapacity and they have gone to rotaries and that has solved the problems,” Becker said during the meeting’s public input, asking the board to delay the vote.

But supervisors voted to OK the contract, saying the public would have a chance to give feedback on the proposed design during public meetings. Supervisor Dave Ripp said he gets all kinds of calls from people concerned about highway and didn’t want to stall the project.

“Right now we need this road, it’s dangerous,” Ripp said.”I get calls that people are trying to turn in their driveway and they are getting cut off by people passing on the gravel, it’s that serious.”

Estimates were not given on how much the project would cost but supervisors said they want a design in place if federal grants become available.

The 2018 county budget included $2 million for an engineering and preliminary design for the project in Westport.

Jail contract OK’d

Dane County supervisors approved $5.85 million in contracts to design and manage construction of the $76 million Dane County jail consolidation project.

Plans call for remodeling the current Public Safety Building at 115 W. Doty St. in phases, adding four floors to the building’s footprint to consolidate inmates from the oldest City-County Building (CCB) jail and also the Ferris Center, for inmates with Huber work release privileges.

An amendment by Supervisor Heidi Wegleitner to refer the vote on the design/engineering contract back to the Public Works and Transportation (PWT) committee failed. She wanted to see the county’s mental health study completed first to see what services could be improved or established to divert more people from jail.

Supervisor Tim Kiefer agreed it should go back to the PWT committee, which he sits on.

“This is a $4.5 million contract, this is a very big decision on the biggest public works project in the history of Dane County government and it’s my job to make sure they before we spend $4.5 millions of taxpayer money that we do our due diligence,” Kiefer said.

Kiefer had said he had three pages of questions to ask Mead and Hunt at the committee hearing but no one from company showed up.

“I came prepared to do my job but wasn’t able to do it and I don’t want to make a bad decision here,” Kiefer said.

Mead and Hunt was awarded the $4.48 million design/engineering contract and the $1.36 million bid from Milwaukee-based Gilbane Building Company was OK’d by the board for construction management services.

Conservation project money authorized

Dane County is chipping in funding to help a conservancy group acquire land in Cherokee Marsh.

The county will provide $43,967 in County Conservation Funds to Groundswell Conservancy, formerly known as Natural Heritage Land Trust, to purchase 10.9 acres in the Village of Waunakee and 10.9 acres in the Village of DeForest.

It would include an overlook of the Cherokee-Marsh-Yahara River valley in Waunakee and provide a conservancy link between the Westport Drumlin Preserve/State Natural Area and land on the west side of the marsh.

Conservancy officials say the DeForest purchase will provide more land for fish and migratory waterfowl, and protect water quality in the Lake Mendota. Hunters, boaters and other outdoor recreationists will have access to the land and water.

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