Tuesday's advisory vote by the Brookfield Public Works Committee could pave the way for a major reconstruction of the 124th Street corridor, particularly from Robinwood Street to Bluemound Round.
On the other hand, it might not, but that is the point. In this somewhat strange case, the Public Works Committee voted to recommend the Common Council support a letter insisting the Wisconsin Department of Transportation be mindful of the community's potential ability to expand 124th Street, by not creating impediments with the new Zoo interchange plans.
"We may decide not to put in the road," explained Alderman and Public Works Chair Jeff Owen.
"We just want to have the option."
The city has no intention at this time to move forward with such an expansion, as it would likely need to be approved by Wauwatosa, Elm Grove and West Allis before any such project could get going.
What the city has basically done is request the leeway to decide later if such a reconstruction would be prudent. Should the DOT's plans build the new interchange with certain specs, a retention pond in a key spot for instance, any future project could come at significantly higher costs.
"I would say, essentially, we're telling the DOT to do it's job," explained City Engineer Jeff Chase.
"I think it was an oversight."
Chase points out that the expansion of 124th Street is part of the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission's 'Regional Transportation Plan.' Failing to allow the local communities to implement that plan, he says, means the DOT has unilaterally decided not to follow that plan.
The DOT is a part of SEWRPC and has representatives who work with the body.
No decision yet
Public Works Director Tom Grisa insisted this move in no way indicates the city's willingness to make any new investments - early estimates peg the costs about more than $23 million, not all of which would be Brookfield's burden.
"If the DOT does something because it's cheap and it ends up costing us a lot of money, I think we've done a disservice to the taxpayers," Grisa said, explaining that failing to leave such an option open essentially kills any future plans to redevelop 124th Street.
The Common Council will still have to approve this letter of intention and as Tom Grisa half-joked, it's unclear whether such a letter will have any impact on the what the DOT chooses to do.
West Allis has already gone through a similar process to voice it's concern.
Interestingly, the committee, as part of its regular agenda Tuesday, also accepted a plan to release the interest in developing a road between Davidson Road and San Lucas Drive. The city had, for years, essentially held the same position on that development as it does on 124th Street: we reserve the rights to change our minds.
The need to development that road by the city has been ameliorated with the Silverado Memory Care facility project.
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