Highway change will be bad for business, owners say
By JOE VANDELAARSCHOT - Daily News
Dec. 29, 2014
HARTFORD — Details in the
Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s proposed 2015
reconstruction of a portion of Highway 60 has business owners
worried. The department’s suggestion of drivers making a U-turn
to get back to the businesses also has at least one local leader
The project, which extends from Main Street to Kettle Moraine
Road, is expected to begin in July. The DOT hosted a meeting
Dec. 16 where it unveiled details.
Dan Mueller owns a George Webb franchise at 1481 E. Sumner St.
in the Sumner Street Plaza. Russ Schroeder owns the plaza and a
Subway there. They’re concerned the DOT’s plan includes
replacing a center turn lane in front of their businesses with a
raised concrete median.
“That means no one heading west will be able to make a left turn
off the highway into my business,” Mueller said. “It will
prevent potential customers from to turning into my lot.”
“Of course it’s going to dramatically affect all of the
businesses in my plaza,” Schroeder said. “If it’s more difficult
to get to a specific place, potential customers will just keep
driving to another business that’s easier to reach.”
DOT spokesman Brian DeNeve said drivers only have to “drive an
additional 300 feet past the driveway to make a U-turn and go
back to enter the (plaza’s) driveway.”
“We feel patrons will still make that necessary (U-)turn to
enter the businesses,” he said.
DeNeve said improving safety is one of the major reasons for
“In 2007-11, there were 24 crashes in the westbound lanes of
Highway 60 from Highway K to about 700 feet east of the
intersection (approximately the Taco Bell driveway on the north
side of Highway 60) and 10 crashes in the eastbound lanes,”
DeNeve said. “We don’t have information on each crash to say
this configuration is causing all these collisions; however,
this is a significant number.”
Mueller said a raised median will make it
more difficult for customers to reach his business and it will
be more dangerous.
“We’ve all had it drummed into us making
U-turns is illegal — unsafe,” Mueller said. “People won’t make
the U-turn no matter what the DOT says.”
DeNeve said state traffic laws were changed
over the last few years to allow U-turns. Municipalities however
can still outlaw U-turns in their jurisdiction which Hartford
has done. Information from Hartford Police Chief David Groves,
shows it’s illegal to make a U-turn at the intersection
suggested by the DOT — Highway 60 at Lone Oak Lane.
“Making a U-turn there is impossible and the
city says it’s illegal,” Mueller said. “The DOT just doesn’t
understand what this can do to us.”
Mueller said he had owned a George Webb
franchise in Watertown and highway access issues there
contributed to its closing.
“I have 20-25 employees and Subway and Pizza
Hut may have about the same,” Mueller said. “This is really
detrimental to being able to keep those jobs.”
Schroeder said he is willing to give the DOT
the benefit of the doubt if it continues to discuss the matter.
“They also agreed to extend the public
comment period until Jan. 10,” Schroeder said. “I’m concerned
though because I talked to them a number of times before the
public meeting and they never said a raised median was in the
project. They’ve not been straightforward. Their attitude is
they’re just going to do it.”
Common Council President Tim Michalak said
he was stunned when Mueller told him what the DOT was proposing.
He told DOT officials the proposal wasn’t properly thought out.
Schroeder is willing to adjust where vehicles enter his parking
“They have no concept of what these things
can do to small businesses,” Michalak said. “It’s ridiculous.”
“I don’t understand how anyone in their
right mind can claim reducing access to a business isn’t going
to cause a significant drop in their customers,” Mueller said.
The DOT said the $4 million project will
include repair and resurfacing about 2.8 miles of the highway.
The construction zone will end about 1,100 feet west of Kettle
Moraine Road. Other improvements include: A right turn lane for
westbound Highway 60 traffic at Grand Avenue and
realignment-lengthening of left turn lanes on the highway at
The DOT could not be
reached for additional comments Tuesday.