Germantown — In an effort to plan ahead for heavier traffic going through Germantown and Mequon, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation has initiated a corridor study of Mequon Road.
The study will aid the DOT's efforts to put a plan in place for the expansion of Mequon Road from Pilgrim to Wauwatosa Roads. There is no timeline for a construction project. The study will determine what the DOT would need to do when traffic volume grows to a point where the roadway needs to expand from two lanes to four.
"It's good to have that there because it will help Mequon and Germantown look out to the future and find what works best for development and business opportunities that are in the future," DOT Communication Specialist Michael Pyritz said.
Planning for development along Mequon Road is in Germantown's future. The village is in favor of a project to expand the roadway, as long as it wouldn't hinder development opportunities along the corridor, Director of Public Works Dan Ludwig said during a DOT public information meeting last week.
"The village really needs this type of planning and we're in favor of it, but now let's make it work with what we have out there and have the flexibility in order to bring in more development," he said. "It's long, long-term planning and you can't fix it in stone and need some flexibility."
A look into the future
It is not the DOT's intention to stymie any future development in Mequon or Germantown, Robert Elkin, DOT planning supervisor for corridors, access and permitting, said. Rather, he says the corridor study is to ensure they are prepared for when, and if, that development does occur so the roadway maintains a level of efficiency.
"We're trying to let property owners and municipalities know what this road should look like in the future so they can plan ahead," Elkin said.
The village doesn't know where the development will take place along Mequon Road, but Ludwig agrees it will be nice to have a plan in place.
"(Mequon Road) brings in a lot of commerce in and out of the village so the more efficient we can make that route the better," he said.
Mequon opposed to expansion
The DOT discussed the corridor study with the Mequon Common Council last year and officials said Mequon would not benefit from a Mequon Road expansion. They said the city would only suffer from the increase in traffic as more commuters would use Mequon Road to get to Interstate 43 or U.S. Hwy 45. While the council was unanimous in its opposition to the project, aldermen were split on a particular point — the potential inclusion of a roundabout at the intersection of Mequon and Wauwatosa roads.
The corridor study, Elkin says, will play a role in design concepts for that intersection.
"They are waiting for us to complete this part of the study so they know which concept to take forward to do the final plans," he said.
Elkin said if the project ever comes to fruition, they will work with each municipality. However, the DOT does not differentiate where the traffic is coming from,
"It's not built for Germantown, or for Mequon, it's for everyone," he said.
The study is looking 30 years into the future. Any expansion project would not move forward unless there is the traffic volume to justify it.
Mequon Road has approximately 12,000 vehicles per day, Michael May, senior traffic engineer with Traffic Analysis and Design, said. As the Germantown Business Park and Mequon Town Center continue to grow, it will generate more traffic — up to as many as 18,000 vehicles per day. Usually, May said, about 13,000 to 14,000 vehicles is the capacity threshold where people begin to get stuck in traffic.
"It's important to note, this isn't a construction project, we are just planning the corridor so in 10, 15 years if it does become a project, everyone has a good understanding of where it's going to go," he said.
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