Stick with Plan A on Hwy. 86 project
Posted: Wed Jun 19, 2002 6:01 pm
The City of Tomahawk is revisiting the issue of the design of South Tomahawk Avenue. A design for this project was approved by the City Council last June after considerable debate. We say stick with Plan A and don't waste money re-engineering the project.<p>As previously approved, the plan calls for boulevards along South Tomahawk Avenue between Southgate Drive and West Wisconsin Avenue. The street reconstruction itself will be paid for by the State of Wisconsin, as South Tomahawk Avenue is actually part of Hwy. 86. Any further additions to the project, such as boulevards or parking provisions, would be city funded.<p>In approving a plan that included boulevards, the council agreed to fund that portion of the project at about $120,000.<p>The Wisconsin Department of Transportation set June 11 as the date when plans for the project should be finalized. Depending on what kind of mood the DOT is in, the city may not even have the opportunity to rescind its approval of the boulevards.<p>The city's Board of Public Works will meet Wednesday to reconsider the boulevards and the design of the Hwy. 86/County Road S intersection. <p>To our knowledge, nobody has raised a logistical question about the boulevards. There's no current argument that boulevards simply won't work on South Tomahawk Avenue. There's no new or pending development that has changed the character of that stretch of street. If there was, we'd feel differently and would be all for revisiting the issue.<p>We know why this has come up and we can sympathize with city officials who remain in budgetary limbo as the State of Wisconsin decides whether or not to place the burden of a $1.1 billion state budget deficit on the backs of local governments.<p>Gov. Scott McCallum scared the pants off local government officials earlier this year when he proposed, as a state budget fix, to eliminate shared revenues to cities, counties, towns and villages. Under McCallum's original proposal, the City of Tomahawk would have lost $148,000 for 2002 in money that had already been budgeted.<p>Currently, that budget repair bill sits in the joint legislative committee as political wrangling further holds up the process. In the meantime, local governments sit nervously, uncomfortable about making even the slightest financial commitment.<p>To the state we say, get moving and show us this budget repair bill we've all been fearing. A worst-case scenario out in the open is better than the uncertainty of not knowing what's coming.<p>To the city we say, leave the South Tomahawk Avenue decision stand. Let's not re-plow that ground.<p>And another thing, if the state pulls shared revenues, it better offer some kind of financial assistance to municipalities for state-local partnership projects such as South Tomahawk Avenue that were already slated before this whole budget mess surfaced.