City and county officials say a recently reached compromise on road reconstruction signals improved relations between the two governments as a new administration takes over in Madison.
On her first day in office Tuesday, Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway stood with Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and announced an agreement about reconstruction of Buckeye Road, ending a disagreement between Parisi and former Mayor Paul Soglin over maintenance responsibility for the road, also known as Highway AB.
“It was very important for me to make sure that we got the Buckeye Road project moving forward,” Rhodes-Conway said. “It’s also important to signal to our entire community that we are operating under a new spirit of collaboration between the city and county.”
No compromise has been reached over maintenance of Cottage Grove Road, also known as Highway BB. But Rhodes-Conway said she’s confident the two governments will find a solution as they continue to negotiate.
While the county and city had agreed to split some of the costs of the work on the two roads, the two governments disagreed over who would ultimately be responsible for maintenance and services like snow plowing.
“I am very hopeful that we will not get stuck on any further projects like this in the future,” Rhodes-Conway said.
The Buckeye Road project includes work on curbs, gutters, storm sewers and a sidewalk.
The city will pay $1.68 million of the construction cost, and the county will spend nearly $1.53 million. Madison will pay the full cost of more than $1.93 million for water and sewer improvements.
The compromise involves a snow plowing agreement. Madison will take over plowing responsibilities from Dane County starting in the winter of 2020-2021. Dane County will continue to be responsible for road upkeep.
The city will seek bids for the construction project starting this week. Rhodes-Conway said most of the work should be completed this year.
The $7.5 million Cottage Grove Road project is expected to include new lanes, bike lanes and sidewalk work, Rhodes-Conway said.
City and county officials have also agreed to share costs for that project. The city plans to pay more than $2.61 million, and the county plans to spend more than $1.46 million. The federal government’s contribution will be $3.45 million.
Soglin previously said Dane County officials were “blackmailing” the city to force it to take over maintenance duties of the two roads.
But Parisi and Rhodes-Conway said they envision a collaborative working relationship because the two have many of the same goals and challenges, like climate change, water quality and poverty.
“Instead of focusing on why we can’t do something, when we focus on how we can do something, we can make a lot of headway,” said Parisi, who endorsed Rhodes-Conway in her election win over Soglin. “We can’t afford to not be working together on these issues.”