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Highway 68 hearing

About 30 area citizens gathered in the Waupun Public Library Wednesday night to hear details and share concerns about the Wisconsin Department of Transportation's Highway 68 resurfacing project. The job is set for spring or summer of 2021. Discussing aspects of the project are, from left, area resident and farmer Steve Sperger, Waupun Director of Public Works Jeff Daane and DOT Project Manager Jeremy Hall.

WAUPUN – Highway 68 may be one of the shortest state highways, but it prompted much public input Wednesday night at Waupun Public Library.

Approximately 30 area residents packed a small meeting room to hear the particulars of a project to resurface the road and to offer their advice and ideas. There were less than 10 chairs in the room, but citizens gathered near the door or wherever they could find a place to stand.

Project manager Jeremy Hall and Megan Scherer of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation summarized the plans. The mill and overlay resurfacing is expected to be bid in December 2020, with construction to take place over two months in the spring or summer of 2021.

The road was last resurfaced in 1996.

“It’s a relatively straightforward resurfacing project,” said Hall. “I’m sure you guys all know the pavement is in pretty poor condition. We need to get a new surface out there from Fox Lake, just east of Edgelawn Drive, into Waupun, basically right up to the limits where we left off with the Highway 49 project.”

Hall explained that three inches of the asphalt pavement will be ground off the surface and replaced in urban areas (in Fox Lake and Waupun). In the rural stretch 3 and a half inches will be ground off and replaced. In areas with deep rutting and cracking, two more inches will be removed and replaced.

Center line rumble strips will be installed where applicable and in Waupun curb ramps will be updated to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

Milling and paving will take place one lane at a time, and the milled surface (approximately a mile a day) will be repaved in its entirety prior to the conclusion of each work day. A moving flagging operation will be used during paving to control traffic during the operation.

Culverts will be replaced as needed, with the county paid for whatever work it completes.

Lori Schultz expressed concern over “challenging” intersections with other roads. Hall responded that reconfiguring those crossings, including Lake Emily Road, Jersey Road and Lakeland Road, is not part of the project.

“The project is focused on putting a new surface down, and there weren’t any crashes to my recollection that would warrant that type of work,” he said. “We’re not making any geometric changes to the road.”

Hall added that such concerns may be noted, but they are not likely to be addressed in the project as it is being proposed.

Central Wisconsin Christian Principal Gregg Zonnefeld expressed concern over the speed limit, which he believes in dangerously fast in the vicinity of his school and the nearly completed Waupun Christian Home.

“Is that an issue of yours, or whose issue is it?” he asked.

Hall answered that a traffic study will need to be completed after the Christian Home opens, and after that the speed limit may be reduced – perhaps to 35 mph.

Answering one contentious man’s idea to do the project differently for less money, Hall responded, “We’re treating as much highway as we can with the money we have. This is what our engineers have determined is our best option.”

John Williamson expressed concerns over the new soybean processing plant, which may generate up to 250 trucks per day. Hall responded that those trucks are unlikely to use Highway 68, but that if they do the surface is adequate to meet that need.

Steve Sperger suggested that the road be closed until completion, avoiding the weakness of joints created from one day’s work to the next.

“Shut it down,” he said. “We can go around. If you do it a mile at a time, in a few years you’re going to feel every one of those cracks. If you extend it out, it’s going to be a lot of years before you fix that road again.”

He also suggested using gravel for the shoulders rather than the asphalt millings.

“Great. Write it down and put it in the comment box,” Hall said. “If enough people suggest it, we might do it that way. I’d prefer that myself.”

“Shut it down. We can go around. If you do it a mile at a time, in a few years you’re going to feel every one of those cracks. If you extend it out, it’s going to be a lot of years before you fix that road again.” Steve Sperger, area farmer