MADISON – Sheboygan area state legislators Senator Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg), Representative Terry Katsma (R-Oostburg) and Representative Tyler Vorpagel (R-Plymouth) have announced that the Highway 23 four-lane expansion has cleared a major legal hurdle.
Monday, March 25th was the deadline for filing a claim under the statute of limitations to challenge federal approval of the project. Monday afternoon,
the Wisconsin Department of Transportation was notified that Madison-based 1000 Friends of Wisconsin decided against filing a claim. This news clears the way for construction to begin this summer.
“This is outstanding news for the citizens of Sheboygan County. The four-lane expansion of Highway 23 is vital to the safety of motorists along the corridor,” stated LeMahieu.
Last October, DOT officials noted in a press release that they planned to start construction on the project this summer. Recently, the department included the Highway 23 four-lane expansion in its annual construction advisory.
“With today’s announcement, there is no reason to delay this project one day further. I am excited for work to begin in Sheboygan County this summer,” continued Katsma.
Area citizens overwhelmingly support a four-lane expansion. In a letter submitted to DOT last year, LeMahieu, Vorpagel, and Katsma noted that more than 600 comments were submitted during a public comment period in favor of the four-lane expansion. Just 24 favored adding passing lanes instead.
“I have consistently heard from constituents on this issue since first taking office in 2015, and it has remained one of my top priorities. Today, thanks to the persistence of area legislators and commitment by staff at the Department of Transportation over the last few years, this project finally got its official green light,” noted Vorpagel.
According to last week’s construction announcement by DOT, project work is scheduled to begin in late May and continue to 2020.
The Highway 23 expansion was previously delayed by a 2015 court injunction in response to a lawsuit by 1000 Friends of Wisconsin. The project was first authorized in state statute in 1999.
Currently, the share of truck volume on WIS 23 is high. Daily truck volumes range from 22 to 26 percent, which provides an overall picture of the mix of traffic along the corridor.
Truck volumes in the peak hour range from 13 to 17 percent, which is used in the operations analysis. On two-lane roadways, high truck volumes are particularly detrimental to roadway operational characteristics because passing requires use of the opposing traffic lane. The high number of trucks creates “platoons” of traffic where vehicles are not able to travel the free-flow speed and have difficulty passing. The truck traffic limits the overall capacity of the existing road with the inability to pass, creating conflicts with slower local traffic, recre ational vehicles, vehicles towing trailers, and farm machinery.
Feedback from public involvement meetings indicated WIS 23 vehicles pass at inopportune times or with insufficient gaps. This mixture of traffic impedes traffic flow creating unsafe situations, lowers the efficiency of the road way, and does not meet the goals of a Corridors 2030 Plan Connector route.
Work may begin as early as May 2019 in Sheboygan County. The project will reconstruct 19.1 miles of WIS 23 to a fourlane, on-alignment, divided highway. Several WIS 23 intersections will also be improved as part of the project. The proposed construction schedule includes:
- Division Road to County P in Sheboygan County
- May 2019 to 2020
- Grading, structures, and paving for the added lanes and intersections
- Seven Hills Road to Division Road in Fond du Lac County
- 2020 and 2021
- Grading, structures, and paving for the added lanes, intersections, and County G interchange
- US 151 to Seven Hills Road in Fond du Lac County
- 2021 and 2022
- Grading, structures, and paving for the added lanes, intersections, County K interchange, County UU interchange, and resurfacing existing lanes
- Seven Hills Road to County P in Fond du Lac and Sheboygan counties
- Resurfacing existing lanes
Additional information regarding the WIS 23 project is available at: https://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/projects/by-region/ne/wis23exp/default.aspx. A WIS 23 construction website will be available on https://511wi.gov.