Questions and answers on the West Waukesha Bypass
By Darryl Enriquez,
Special to The Freeman
December 15, 2012
Q&A on the West Waukesha Bypass with Gary Evans, county engineering
Q: There is a lot of concern about environmental impact of this
project, with some people saying the wetlands will all but be destroyed.
What types of impact are to be expected to environmentally sensitive
areas? Are there any concerns about protected species within the project
A: The proposed roadway would be located in such a way to avoid as
much wetland as possible.
The plan is to narrow the median of the roadway through this area to
reduce its “footprint.” A lot of effort has been put into mapping the
wetlands along Pebble Creek and into understanding how ground water
helps maintain them. This will help minimize the environmental impact of
the project. The Pebble Creek corridor near Sunset Drive down to Highway
59 is a high-quality wetland. If the project is built, however, some
wetland would be filled no matter which alternative is selected.
Every effort will be made to avoid wetland impacts, and nothing will be
built without state and federal environmental agency approvals.
There are several protected species in the Pebble Creek corridor. A few
of these species are in the process of being removed from the protected
species list by the DNR. The Build Alternatives under consideration
would impact these species differently. All of them would include steps
to mitigate impacts to protected species.
Q: Why does the county need a four-lane road there? Is there a
cheaper alternative? Why not do what some are advocating, an “improve-no
A: Safety is our No. 1 priority. A number of two-lane and four-lane
alternatives have been studied. A four-lane road is safer and handles
traffic better than a two-lane road. An independent ‘road safety audit’
for the project that looked at the No-Build Alternative, improved
two-lane road, and a four-lane road verified that a four-lane road would
have the greatest effect on reducing crashes.
This conclusion is consistent with a national study that found four-lane
roads with a median reduce crashes by 40 to 60 percent compared to
two-lane roads. The four-lane roadway would also provide the best
long-term results for traffic flow. So while the improved two-lane
alternative would provide some benefit in the short term, it would not
address the long-term needs of the area. It may be cheaper in the short
term, but would end up being more costly and more disruptive in the
Q: What about the safety of children getting to and from Meadowbrook
School? Are there still plans for a pedestrian bridge over the bypass?
Why not do a tunnel under the road, like at Heyer Park?
A: Pedestrian and bicyclist safety is a big issue all along the
proposed route, and certainly at Meadowbrook School. A sidewalk would be
built on the west side of the road from Rolling Ridge Drive to the Kame
A bike path would be built along the east side of the road from Rolling
Ridge down to Sunset Drive, providing a safe connection between the Lake
Country Trail and the Glacial Drumlin State Trail. And a new bridge
carrying the road over the Glacial Drumlin would make it safer for those
who use the Glacial Drumlin Trail.
At Meadowbrook School, the traffic light would remain in place, as well
as a median and marked crosswalks. Waukesha County, City of Waukesha,
Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the School District will work
together to determine what additional pedestrian safety measures are
needed. Everyone wants to make sure the crossing at the school is safe.
A pedestrian tunnel probably will not be part of the solution. Tunnels
tend to be dark and people often feel unsafe when they walk through
Q: What is the next step of the process? Where does it go from here?
A: Waukesha County, the Federal Highway Administration and Wisconsin
Department of Transportation will review public and local government
input received throughout the study, including the recently-concluded
comment period on the draft EIS. The next big milestone is the final
environmental impact statement (as opposed to the draft EIS that was
approved in October). At the final EIS meeting, Waukesha County will
announce the preferred alternative. We anticipate the final EIS will be
approved in spring or early summer 2013.
Q: How can I keep up to date on the process of this project? Is
there a website for people to go to? How can I get any updates from the
county on the plan?
Waukeshabypass.org is a great way to keep up to date on the project.
We will continue to send out newsletters and host public meetings.