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Presque Isle Town Board approves Highway B bypass

April 17, 2020 by Kayla Houp

The Presque Isle Town Board approved a motion Thursday, March 5, authorizing the construction of a temporary highway to bypass construction work on Highway B within the township of Presque Isle during 2020 and 2021.

Shortly after the board reached the “Hwy. B Construction By-Pass Road” agenda item, town chair Marshall Reckard stated he sought a motion to authorize the board to construct the bypass in accordance with Wis. State Statute 82.35

Wisconsin State Statute 82.35 outlines a town board’s authority to “lay out and open temporary highways” in situations where the highway is either impassable or dangerous to travel, or in instances where the board considers it necessary to “suspend travel on a highway or on any part of a highway due to construction, repair, or other reasons.”

“I think we should’ve been apprised of what was going on before I read the agenda,” town supervisor Carl Wolter said. “This was basically the first I’ve heard about it.”

Reckard said he was “asking for it then I can get in why.”

“I go along with the premise,” Wolter said. “But I think we’ve been left in the dark.”

Reckard explained the town crew had approached him “a while back” with an idea for a bypass.

The suggested plan is to use the Oxbow tract logging area to construct the temporary highway for use while the Hwy. B construction project is underway.


Detours

According to Reckard, in his conversations with Vilas County Highway Commissioner Nick Scholtes as well as his conversations with the project’s engineering firm, Highway B would be closed twice during the project, once at Little Horsehead and the second on Main Street for “at least a week” each.

“The county cannot re-route traffic, only to a county road or a state highway, they cannot reroute the traffic to a town road,” Reckard stated.

An audience member clarified the county couldn’t specify using county to town roads as a “detour,” but that they couldn’t “prohibit local traffic from using those local roads.”


‘No idea what it will cost’

As Reckard was explaining his suggested plan for a bypass, the question of how the project would get paid for, as well as whether the bypass would be completed in time for the first leg of the Hwy. B construction project, was raised.

“Now I got to find out what I can do, and how I can do it legally,” he said, adding since the area was “all strictly town land,” it gave him a “lot of flexibility.”

“I can build a road coming off of Oxbow (Rd.) to, what was it, Kunschke Rd., comes out on Hwy. B, just east of East Amour Lake Rd.,” Reckard said. “We’re looking at doing it, putting in a 24-foot wide road bed, but a 20-foot gravel road.”

Once the work on Hwy. B in 2020 was completed, Reckard said the road could be blocked off until construction began again in 2021.

“I don’t know if we can get it done,” he said. “I can get it done probably for 2021, but to get it done for 2020, now, again, I do deal with the highway commissioner, we do speak at least once a week.”

Reckard added he hoped to get Pitlick and Wick, the company awarded the bid for that stretch of the Hwy. B, to push back work on the Little Horsehead culvert until July or August.

“It’s going to cost some money,” he said.

Reckard explained that, as the Horsehead Lake boat landing work wouldn’t be done in 2020, the money budgeted toward that project would be available for the temporary road project.

“I’m trying to work the numbers,” Reckard said.

“What are you asking us for?” town supervisor Cathy Logan Weber asked.

Reckard said he was looking for the authority to build the temporary road according to state statute.

“And you really have no idea what it will cost?” Logan Weber asked.

“No idea,” Reckard said. 

After some more discussion and explanation, the conversation circled back to the cost of the project.

“You don’t really know what you’re going to run into there. You’ve looked at it, I assumed. You know that we can get through there,” Logan Weber said.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Reckard said.

He said the crew and he felt as though doing the bypass would “save some time.”

“We want to get started, and I need this to get started,” Reckard said.

“Making that motion means you’re going to start it, even though we don’t know what it will cost?” Logan Weber asked.

“Can you get it done in time?” Wolter asked.

“We don’t know that, either,” Logan Weber said.

“If I don’t start, and we can do it ... either we do it or we don’t,” Reckard said. “If we don’t, then you’re going to put up with those bypasses that I mentioned.”

Those bypasses, he said, would re-route traffic through some parts of Michigan.

“I have a feeling you will get it done in time,” Wolter said.

Kayla Houp may be reached via email at [email protected]



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