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|Opposed to Watertown Bypass
Mr. Jeffrey Gust
Dear District Project Manager Gust
This letter is written to express formal opposition to a Watertown bypass of any kind.
Below is an article of mine recently published as an opinion in the local papers. There continue to be many similar articles asking that no bypass be built in the Watertown area. Unification of this sentiment is likely to continue. An alternative by which the DOT could also benefit would be turning the upcoming 4 lane expansion into a beautifully designed boulevard as suggested in this article.
I'd like to see the DOT be more of a progressive leader in creative transportation solutions; like a large corporation diversifying to protect its future. Work with local communities to encourage relief of temporary traffic congestion with staggered factory start times, and frontage roads. Work towards revitalization of downtown centers via helpful traffic patterns. Slopping down a consensually unwanted bypass in this area would not be an endearing action.
William J. Reichertz
copies to Representative Ward and Senator Fitzgerald, Kjohnson Engineers
We began about 3 1/2 miles North of Watertown. Then, from Ebenezer and Hwy 26 we traveled North across the river, turned left onto Bernard St., and ended our trip just west of the Humane Society, at 505 PM. Elapsed time, 12 minutes in "rush hour" traffic.
Granted, there are moments of congestion on 26, mostly at the bridge. But contrast those brief moments to the eerie solitude during other drive times. Another example? Most of the day, driving the Fort bypass is like being in an episode of the "Twilight Zone." There'll be even less traffic by Watertown.
How many of you working people have taken "spare time" to lobby for a Watertown bypass? Please raise your hand. Just as I thought, no hands. This was not a popular issue. Yet here we are, "blessed" with a "choice" between three evils; East, West or a Rail Corridor, (as revised by the DOT). There is little demand, and it was not locally driven. And absent power sharing between governmental units, there is little local control. This definately is not Smart Growth.
As many readers have pointed out, the Rail Corridor, (revised), alternative would divide the city. It would also bring to mind many unpleasant images of big-city, including concrete, empty space and decay. Less obvious is that a bypass also divides any future segments of our city.
At risk of being too general, it might be safe to call Waterown "a conservative area," with all the plusses and minuses that general concept entails. It surprises me then, that we are so quick to spend tax dollars and ravage community. On the one hand we are in "The Main Street Program." On the other, we are draining Main Street with a bypass. Understandably, downtown business is not eager to be political. But there may never be a better time for the loyalists to step forward to demand local control and Smart Growth.
A greater social good would be reason for bypass acceptance. But that is not the case. Why put up a bypass now for traffic which may be here in 20 years? Think of the wasted maintenance in that time. The tide is turning. Jefferson County is uniquely situated to dictate Smart Growth. Instead of becoming a future object of urban flight, let's attempt to build attractive community with sustainable business and environmental stewardship. Others want what we have, or could easily enhance. Our economic development boards should be focusing on our assets. They should not be driven by a bypass, a quick buck, or a "bigger, big-box" retail ideal. As recently as a few months ago the bypass was DOA. Then it was resusitated via heavy lobbying by a handful of the well-connected.
Mayoral candidate Ken Berg was absolutely on target when observing that a large number of people believe "no bypass" to be the correct choice. I understand Jefferson is planning a boulevard for its future main street. Now imagine Watertown's Western Avenue in springtime. See the tree and flower-lined boulevard? It is no coincidence that this one of Watertown's more attractive neighborhoods. Wonderful cities have splendid streets, not great bypasses.
The Rail Corridor, (revised by the DOT), began as a simple thru-town option. We already have this in place with the proposed expansion of Hwy 26 to four lanes from the Southern edge of town. The bridge bottleneck will be gone in two or three years. This four land expansion should be an attractive boulevard; a community asset. It would advertise a colorful mid-size town with shopping, canoeing, biking, pedestrian zones, riverside offices and restaurants, etc. You see, there is no need to destroy farmland and corridor. This healthy, respectful relationship between urban and rural is Smart Growth.
Watertown has every right to say, "not in my back yard. Call back in 20 years, then we'll talk." This will be my letter to the DOT and local elected officials. Please send a similar message by Feb 9th to Kjohnson Engineers, Inc., 6510 Grand Teton Plaza, Suite 314, Madison, WI 53719. Ignore false choice and division. This is the DOT's chance to build good will.