Road report: How does the county stack up?
By Rick Cohler
BROWN COUNTY – As the snow melts, returns, and melts again, those in Northeast Wisconsin know soon enough, the area’s next season – construction season – has, or soon will, poke its orange-cone head out from its winter hibernation.
No community is immune to the season, or the months-long projects, however, communities go about things a bit differently – both in planning and funding.
WIS 29/County VV interchange
It’s no secret the largest road construction project in the area is the interchange at WIS 29 and Brown County Highway VV – a project intended to address the safety and mobility of traffic between Shawano and Green Bay.
The multi-faceted project, which is scheduled to open this fall, includes the construction of a diamond interchange at County VV with an overpass, realignment of Milltown Road, connection from County VV to North Overland Road, removal of the existing restricted crossing J-turn intersections at County VV and removal of access to WIS 29 from County U.
A project of this magnitude, overlapping multiple municipalities, in turn creates projects/costs for those surrounding communities as well.
Geoff Farr, public works director for the Village of Howard, said several streets will be reconstructed from rural to a more urban design including Evergreen and Marley streets.
The villages of Howard and Hobart, along with Brown County, applied for a Federal Department of Transportation Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development, or BUILD, grant several years ago and received a $19.8 million grant in 2018 to help fund the project.
“We were one of the few projects selected nationwide to receive the grant,” Farr said. “That was basically for some hazard-type situations.”
Howard and Hobart are each committing 11.5%, or around $3.2 million, with the county’s share being 5.65%, about $1.57 million, and the state committing $75,000 (.27%).
Farr said the Village of Howard has about 112 centerline miles of roadway pavements.
He said the village’s current target goal is to replace 4.5 miles each year.
Farr said the actual replacement amounts vary, up or down, depending on individual budget years and other factors.
A project just north of WIS 29, he said, Marley Street, where it intersects with Glendale Avenue, “will be reconstructed to a boulevard.”
Farr said the project will kick off in a couple weeks and is also slated for a fall completion.
“That’s been a big project,” he said. “There’s been a lot of utility work, fiber optics, sewer and water. It’s the culmination of 10 years of work.”
Hobart Village President Richard Heidel said the WIS 29-VV interchange will help the village continue its development plans.
Heidel said he’s been lobbying for the connection for years, and is happy it is finally happening.
“As they say, everything worthwhile is worth waiting for as long as you work like hell while you’re waiting for it,” he said.
Heidel said the project has two main benefits for Hobart.
“Safety – that was job No. 1, checked off and accomplished,” he said. “Job No. 2 is economic development.”
Heidl said over the past 13 years or so, there has been robust residential growth and the village’s population has grown to nearly 11,000, in turn prompting road work.
The village will construct three new streets to accommodate the WIS 29-VV intersection.
Tax increment district No.1-funded projects include: Centerline Drive, from existing Centerline Drive (by the water tower) to the new roundabout at North Overland Road; extending Larson Orchard Parkway from the existing road to the new Centerline Drive; and extending Founders Terrace from Larson Orchard Parkway to the new Centerline Drive.
New roads will include sanitary, storm sewer, and water and a new regional stormwater pond.
Public Works Director Jerry Lancelle said Hobart has 97 miles of village roads.
“We don’t have a target percentage of roads to repair, it comes down to available budget and bids received for repairs in a given year,” Lancelle said. “We have generally budgeted approximately $400,000 for road repair.”
Lawrence Public Works Director Kurt Minten said the town has experienced rapid residential growth, which will drive road construction projects.
Minten said Lawrence has approximately 60 miles of road and is resurfacing about 1.25% – resurfacing most roads that have 25- to 30-year-old asphalt.
“A general rule is, you should get 20 years of life out of an asphalt road,” he said. “The roads that are getting a second lift are new roads that are either two or three years old. Every year is different, but we add what we can add anywhere from one-quarter to a full mile of road in new construction, and are mostly in subdivisions from new growth. In the near future, we will need to add more funds to the resurfacing budget, just to keep up with the number of roads we have as the asphalt gets older.”
Some of the work Minten said planned for Lawrence in 2022 include the resurfacing of the second half of Spring Meadows, the west section of Pepperidge Drive, a small section of Skyline Oaks starting at Pepperidge Court and Country View Circle; a second application of asphalt applied to Lawrence Parkway, Crenshaw Court, Shady Court, Sabal Oak Drive, Tambour Circle and Tambour Trail; and the extension of American Drive north another 600 feet.
Minten said roadwork in the town is funded through the general fund.
Doug Martin, the public works director for the Village of Ashwaubenon, said no major new street construction projects are planned for 2022.
Martin said the village has 98.9 miles of roadway with the annual target of repaving or reconstruction of approximately four to five miles.
He said the village’s annual surface milling and repavement program includes a variety of projects, which will be funded using general tax levy.
Overall, the Village of Bellevue has 78 miles of streets.
Eric Woodke, the public works director for the village, said streets that have a Pavement Surface Evaluation rating of five or under are targeted for repaving or replacement.
Woodke said village streets came through the winter in good condition, and no major projects are scheduled for 2022 other than routine maintenance, calling it an “off” year for street construction.
Karen Simons, Bellevue clerk/treasurer and director of finance, said the village began the collection of a $20 per vehicle wheel tax in May 2019.
Only one of two communities in Northeast Wisconsin to do so (the other being the City of Green Bay).
Simons said the annual collections were:
• $163,720 in 2019
• $246,743 in 2020
• $234,149 in 2021
She said the total collected through Dec. 31, 2021 was $644,612, with total expenditures of $227,300, leaving the wheel tax balance at $417,312.
Simons said the wheel tax does not totally eliminate special assessments, however, allows the village to put a maximum cap on special assessments (adjusted for inflation) for road projects.
She said the wheel tax revenue is used to partially fund the difference between the actual costs and the maximum assessment.
The Village of Allouez has several resurfacing projects scheduled for 2022, which are funded through the general fund.
Public Works Director Sean Gehin said the village has ownership and maintenance responsibilities of approximately 54 miles of roadway.
“This year under our street maintenance project, we will be resurfacing approximately 7,700 feet of roadway, which represents roughly speaking, 3% of the village’s overall system,” Gehin said. “The yearly funding of our annual street maintenance project has been consistent over the past few years, likely resulting in a similar percentage of roadways being improved on an annual basis. In addition to street maintenance work, the village, on an every-other-year basis, reconstructs a number of street segments varying in length and scope, representing, roughly speaking, 1% of our overall system.”
He said work this year includes removal and replacement of asphalt, as well as defective sections of curb and gutter and driveway apron.
Gehin said work is expected to begin in early May.
The Town of Ledgeview currently has 62.05 miles of roadway, Director of Public Works Greg Potts said.
“On a 25-year life cycle, we would repair/replace 2.482 miles of roadway every year to stay on track,” Potts said.
He said the majority of Ledgeview’s roads need maintenance and not replacement.
“We currently have zero roads with a 1 or 2 Pavement Surface Evaluation rating and 1.16% with a rating of 3,” Potts said. “As we complete our buildout, and Ledgeview ages, we will need to complete more replacement.”
He said funding for each project varies and is at the final discretion of the Town Board.
Usually, Potts said, maintenance is covered by the town budget/transportation aids, while urbanization is assessed to a certain dollar amount per foot, and the remaining is covered by general levy or bonding.
He said tentative projects planned for 2022 include pulverizing and overlay, chip seal and crack seal.
Suamico is also experiencing strong residential growth.
Village Administrator Alex Kaker said the village has 134 center-line miles of road.
Kaker said the ultimate goal is to have roads on a 30-year cycle.
“The village has been adding $100,000 to the general fund levy each year and allocating that to road projects,” he said. “We anticipate that by 2027 we will get there.”
Kaker said the village is using state Local Road Improvement Program funds of about $87,000 to partially fund its $1,058,430.61 total road paving costs.
He said the rest will be paid using general levy funds.
Brown County Highway Commissioner Paul Fontecchio said the county maintains 800 miles of road.
“From the 2020 rating to the 2022 projected, you can see quite a drop in the 6-10 PACER-rated roads to the 4-5 rated roads,” he said. “Quite a few roads that were rated a 6 moved to the 5 category. We try to keep our 1-3 rated roads as low as possible, and we have been doing a fairly good job with that. Those 3-rated roads are the ones that get your attention.”
Fontecchio said it is tougher to target a number of lane miles per year as not all road repair efforts are the same.
“Some roads are straightforward resurfacing, but some require more extensive reconstruction,” he said. “That said, ballpark, we look to do 15-20 lane miles per year at a minimum.”
Fontecchio said the county will undertake a number of projects this summer with some work already underway.