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Hobart learns of southern De Pere bridge project

By Ben Rodgers

HOBART – The Hobart Village Board learned of a massive highway project for Brown County at the Tuesday, March 20, meeting.

Jayme Sellen, government affairs director with the Greater Green Bay Chamber, told the board about the long-awaited southern De Pere bridge project.

Sellen said the project started with a comprehensive plan in 1968. Starting in 1996, it has been more seriously discussed.

Essentially what it is will be a four-lane highway that starts on County Trunk GV (Monroe Road), and include a bridge over the Fox River to County Trunk EB (Packerland Drive).

Jayme Sellen, government affairs director with the Greater Green Bay Chamber, talks about the southern Brown County bridge project with the Hobart village board on March 20. Ben Rodgers Photo

“We’ve been kind of caught in this cycle of review and repeat, review and repeat with (Wisconsin) DOT and (the) Federal Highway (Administration),” Sellen said.

Because Hobart connects to Packerland Drive, Sellen asked the board for their endorsement of the project.

Right now this project will compete against thousands of others across the country, Sellen said. One method to ensure a federal matching grant of 80/20 is to show municipal cooperation.

“It really is for our project to look better because there is a consensus between the communities and they’re willing to plan together,” she said.

After years of discussion and planning the project could be starting sooner than later, Sellen said.

It includes two alternate routes available to choose from.

“We’re at a point right now where we believe the Federal Highway Administration will have that final site designated by the end of this year or very early by 2019,” Sellen said. “Which means the design will happen in 2019 with construction starting by 2020 or 2021.”

She said the project is expected to be completed in five phases with construction being totally finished in 2029.

The total price tag is expected to be between $100 and $150 million. Due to the price, Sellen said the 80/20 grant from the Federal Highway Administration is vital to the project.

She said the remaining 20 percent would be paid by a multi-jurisdictional tax incremental financing district, which would be the first time this was ever used in Wisconsin.

The communities impacted would be asked to use a TIF to pay for a share of the costs. Communities like De Pere and Ledgeview would pay more because the project would move through there.

“We’re trying to figure out what the best avenue is to start that conversation and where we’ve decided to start is with land use and looking at those corridors to see if there is a common land use around that corridor then get into those numbers,” Sellen said.

She said Hobart wouldn’t have a significant financial contribution, given the scale of the project, but would certainly benefit from increased access to Packerland Drive.

“It sounds like the purpose of this is really cosmetic to the eyes, for the purposes of the grant,” said Rich Heidel, village president.

Sellen said it is, and without the grant the project is unlikely to materialize.

The board took no formal action as this item was informational.

In other news, the board learned of the hiring of Roberta Skaleski as the municipal court clerk.

Skaleski was appointed to the position by municipal judge Ron VanLanen.

The board also agreed to join the Fox River Fire District with Ashwaubenon, De Pere, Bellevue, Lawrence and Ledgeview.

This will improve the department’s access to training as well as grant-writing opportunities.

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