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Upgrades eyed for Wisconsin Dells Parkway, home of many major businesses

Upgrades eyed for Wisconsin Dells Parkway, home of many major businesses

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LAKE DELTON — Wisconsin Dells Parkway could receive an upgrade from the state in a few years due to safety concerns. 

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is in the preliminary stages of planning a project to reduce the amount of crashes on an over two-mile stretch of road from County Road A and East Adams Street along Wisconsin Dells Parkway. The project limits will sit along several attractions, like Mt. Olympus Theme and Water Park, Noah’s Ark and the Dells Ducks boat companies, said DOT Project Manager Derek Potter in a Jan. 28 a phone interview. 

Village Engineer John Langhans, who works with MSA Professional Services, shared he met with local and state officials Jan. 21 to discuss the potential reconstruction.

According to Potter and Langhan's report, the state is proposing to add a cross section of four 10-foot travel lanes with an 11-foot two-way left turn lane. The development will add a fifth lane to the section of Highway 12/State Highway 23 in the middle of the four-lane divided highway on a two-mile stretch from the intersection of County Road A to East Durkee Street, Potter said. According to Langhan's report, other proposed items include the addition of signal and intersection improvements, pedestrian rectangular rapid flashing beacons and refuge islands. Six-foot sidewalks will be constructed on both sides immediately adjacent to back of curb.

Design is estimated for completion in 2024-2025 and construction is scheduled to start in 2025.

The estimated cost of the project for the corridor is $10 to $13 million, part of which will be funded with Highway Safety Improvement Program money, Potter said. No local cost share is proposed at this time, according to Langhan's report.

Potter said the state will also look for input from local businesses and the public on the direction of the project. 

“We’ll have lot of public outreach as the project progresses,” Potter said, adding it's in the very preliminary stages.

While the construction will pose some impact to traffic, its too early to tell how much at this point, he said. 

According to Potter and data outlining the project from the Department of Transportation, there were 314 crashes from 2016 to 2020 on the two-mile stretch between County Road A and East Adams Street. Potter said a majority were rear-end crashes but last September there was one fatal crash. 

“It’s a tourist area, there’s a lot of access points on the corridor so a lot of people want to make a left turn and they have to wait for opposing traffic to come though, especially in the tourist season in the summer," Potter said, adding the wait can cause traffic to back up, leading to rear-end crashes.

While the road work is proposed for a few years out, board members the village needs to prepare to communicate with state officials to complete the project, Langhans said. Langhans suggested the village start looking into what its infrastructure needs are that could be completed before or during the construction phase of the project.

“I think my big takeaway is we learned a lot last week,” Langhans told the board Jan. 25. “There’s probably some room for improvement in certain areas but there will be in (what) my opinion is a fair amount of coordination that the village should probably start thinking about in advance of this state project.”

Langhans also recommended the village meet with Alliant Energy to review any potential interference with underground utilities to identify impacts and if adjustments are needed. He planned to talk with the Department of Transportation last week to revisit any concerns about the potential project. Langhans said he will provide more details to the board and village officials as new information becomes available.

Follow Erica Dynes on Twitter @EDynes_CapNews or contact her at 608-393-5346.

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