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History: Local:  Street Index

    Waukesha County Highway Trunk J: State Road (Highway) 164

Compiled, transcribed, with notes added by Michael R. Reilly

Updated 03/24/2014

Looking for history of Highway J/164; please send information to website Editor, see below. Also read Wisconsin State Road (Highway) 74

    Highway 92, Waukesha to Templeton, is in the first stages and will be open to traffic next Saturday.  Waukesha Freeman, September 28, 1922. Editor's note: Sometime between Nov. 1922 and Oct 1924 Hwy 92 changed to State Highway 164

Hurtgen's Pavilion, Duplainville, STH 164. Waukesha Freeman, May 19, 1927. Editor's note: Hwy 164 traveled from present day (April 19, 2005) from I-94 by the American store north to Duplainville where it jogged to the right, continued north to Hwy K, then west a 1/4 mile to resume its' northern direction (as Waukesha Ave.) to terminate at Hwy 74.

    New Road Widths Have Been Approved by Many Sixteen towns and villages of Waukesha county have approved the ordinance passed in January by the supervisors establishing the potential width of state and county trunk highways at 90 to 120 feet, County clerk William Koehler announced today. 

    Mr. Koehler explained that the plan merely looks into the future when roadways may need to be widened and serves as a warning against constructing buildings on land that may some day be condemned for highway purposes. "Since the present roadway width id 66 feet, it is obvious the measure is looking a long way into the future. 

    The natural question is where would a state or county trunk highway find a 120-foot roadway through the city of Waukesha?", said Mr. Koehler. The towns to approve the new width are: Brookfield, Menomonee, Merton, Mukwonago, Muskego, New Berlin, Oconomowoc, Ottawa, Vernon and Waukesha. The villages are: Dousman, Lannon, Mukwonago, Butler, Pewaukee, Sussex and Wales. Waukesha Freeman, March 12, 1931. Also see January 15, 1931, page 7 of 8.

    During the past week County Trunk J has been surfaced with a coat of black top from STH 74 north to the Catholic church on the county line. Waukesha Freeman, September 18, 1940. 

Want Warning Signal on Lisbon Plank Road - Complaints that the Soo Line crossing on County Trunk K (Lisbon Plank Road) in the town of Lisbon is unsafe, will be aired at a hearing called by the Wisconsin Public Service commission for 10 a.m. on July 18 in the Waukesha court house.

    The crossing is adjacent to STH 164 (State Highway or SR, State Road 164), and signers of a petition presented to the state commission claim that electric signals or other warning devices should be erected to safeguard the motoring public at this crossing Waukesha Freeman, June 26, 1946

Sophie Manak's Club 164, town of Pewaukee. Waukesha Freeman, April 19, 1944

Hwy SS near STH 164 intersection. Waukesha Freeman, June 14, 1944

Hwy 16, 1 mile east of STH 164. Waukesha Freeman, October 18, 1944

Beck's Mill (Wauke-Mills?) 100 yards from STH 164. Waukesha Freeman, June 13, 1945

STH 164 just south of city (Waukesha). Waukesha Freeman, January 1, 1946

Wonderland Tavern on STH 164. Waukesha Freeman, January 23, 1946

    Prior to and after 1966, CTH J originated from CTH KE (Jungbluth Road) as Glacier Road; paralleling CTH JJ (old Wisconsin Ave., between Pewaukee and Hartland); joining with CTH JJ where present day Wisconsin Ave., Glacier Rd. and Ryan Street (present day CTH KF, which, i.e., Ryan St., may not have existed in 1966; it was probably Hill Street) intersect; continues on into Pewaukee heading east (at intersection of Wisconsin, Hill, and Capitol) as Capitol Drive; crosses railway tracks north of  CTH SS (Watertown Road, later named CTH M) in Pewaukee, then as Sussex Road, crossed SR 16, traveled north to CTH JF (Lindsay Road - note: Lindsay is no longer a County Trunk Highway), then east along Lindsay Rd. for approx. one mile to CTH F (or Swan Road, CTH F terminates* there), becomes CTH J (Swan Rd.)  north to CTH K (Lisbon Road); turns east onto CTH K; turns north as CTH J becomes Maple Avenue (originally South Street); CTH J turns west at SR 74, then north again at present day site of Pick 'n Save food store; continues north and terminates at SR 175 (Appleton Avenue) in Ackerville. Note: When SR 16 was widened to four-lanes (or before), Sussex Rd. was terminated heading south, now joins/becomes Cecelia Drive to Capitol Drive (SR 190).

*CTH F actually continued on, following CTH JF west to KF, then north, where at Richmond Road, it becomes CTH F once more. This continued north, turning west on  SR 74, then north again through village of Merton along with SR 74, where at St. John's United Church of Christ Cemetery, it turned east then north (present day Center Oak Road; also the Merton-Lisbon town line). CTH F then ends as Waukesha CTH in Monches.

    After 1966:  STH 164 (two-Lane) extended north from Duplainville Rd.  Note: In an email reply from Gary Evans, P.E., Engineering Services Manager, Waukesha County Public Works, Highway Department, April 21, 2005, "I have a plan set dated July 1965 for the relocation of STH 164 from Duplainville Road to what is now STH 74. The project began at Duplainville Road and ended about mile north of CTH K. The roadway was built as a two lane facility. The work probably took place in 1966, but contact WisDOT to be sure."

    A follow-up from WisDOT says the work was done in  1967. Trumpy, Jean [email protected]

    In the late 1960's, CTH J was extended from CTH K, directly north to it's SR 74 (present-day SR 164) intersection with Silver spring Drive (CTH VV)

    After 1977: SR 164 was to be widened to four-lanes. Initially, this four-lane highway was to extend through village of Sussex and town of Lisbon, at least north to CTH Q (border of Waukesha and Washington counties). Project never materialized, and with later residential development, alternative routes to link Interstate I-94 north to SR 41/45 were needed. Note: SR 164 ran south into city of Waukesha as North Street, and terminated at the intersection of Delafield, North and Moreland Sts.

    Hwy 164 south of Sussex to I-94 is open again. Hwy 164 was reopened from Hwy SS at Pewaukee to the expressway. It still remains closed south of I-94 as the bridge over the Pewaukee River won't be completed until December 9, 1977. A vehicle can now enter and exit I-94 at Hwy 164. Drivers no longer have to get off at County F or Goerke's Corners exchange at Barker Rd., Hwy 164 has been closed since June for construction of a second bridge over I-94, widening to 4-lanes, and the bridge over the Pewaukee river. Source: Sussex Sun, Tuesday, November 22, 1977, page 1 and 2.

    Originally, SR 83 was to be widened to four lanes, north of SR16, but that project was successfully defeated by resident opposition.

    In 1985 Waukesha County constructed a local trunk highway (originally designated County Trunk Highway F, and later renamed County Trunk Highway  J between Capitol Drive (SR 190), north to  Lindsay Road. Involved the filling in of as much as 7.5 acres of wetlands north of Swan Rd. Called Project 2780-01-76.

    Waukesha county Senior Civil Engineer Burt Kalister, what was to become the CTH J extension from was started April 1, 1985, and should be completed early Fall, then old "F" would be turned over to the towns of Lisbon and Pewaukee; the extension will cost over $1 million. Sussex Sun, Tuesday, May 14, 1985.

    Sussex Sun, September 24, 1985 - Last week Waukesha county renamed CTH F from Capitol to Waukesha city limits to "J"; The new section will be CTH J. Highway J west of Pewaukee or Glacier Rd. will be Highway GR from Capitol to Highway KE. Highway F (Moraine Drive) renamed CTH MD, from K to VV. These other name changes effective January 1, 1986.

    Note: In an email reply from Gary Evans, P.E., Engineering Services Manager, Waukesha County Public Works, Highway Department, April 21, 2005:

   "STH 164 was widened from I-94 to Capitol Drive in 1987 as a four lane facility."
    "In 1992 STH 164 was widened to Four lanes from STH 190 north to Main Street in Sussex."

    In a WisDOT email from Trumpy, Jean [email protected], she states that Hwy 164 was widened to 4-lanes from Duplainville Rd. to SR 190 in early 1988, then later that year from SR 190 to CTH K (Lisbon Rd.). In 1994, it was extended to Main St. (SR 74) in Sussex. Editor's note: with these years now available, I will search the local newspaper for verification on years.

    According to a December 8, 1999 article in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel stated the City of Waukesha "named the state Highway 59/164 bypass the Les Paul Parkway, after the electric-guitar pioneer" in 1998.


Notices being sent on highway name changes

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Monday, November 30, 1998

Notices are being sent to property owners getting new addresses along what is now Washington County Highway J .

Effective Jan. 1, the new address will be state Highway 164 .

The switch is part of a jurisdictional transfer agreed to about three years ago by Washington County and the state Department of Transportation. Notices are being sent by the state.

Under the transfer, the state will assume responsibility for a 15.5-mile stretch of Highway J , from Highway 175 in the Town of Polk to Capitol Drive in Waukesha County.

"The state didn't want to change the name until there was a similar agreement with Waukesha County," said Ken Pesch, Washington County highway commissioner.

Also, a section of what is now Highway 164 in Waukesha County will be renamed Highway 74.

"The biggest thing will be to make sure all the emergency responders and the fire departments know about the new highway names," Pesch said.

And, in what is sure to be a mixed blessing, "all the property tax bills will go out before the name change takes effect," he said.


Control over County Highway J to be shifted to state Jan. 1 - Also, several area roads will be rerouted, renamed under agreement for switch

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Tuesday, December 22, 1998

Author: LORI HOLLY, Journal Sentinel staff

Commuters traveling along County Highway J between Waukesha and Washington counties might find themselves a little confused when they head back to work after the New Year's Day celebration, because the thoroughfare will have become a state highway.

The transfer, the major component of a pact the Department of Transportation negotiated with the counties, will result in the renaming and rerouting of several highways in the area, department officials said Monday.

The changes are included in the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission's Highway Jurisdictional Plan 2010 that both counties adopted several years ago.

Under the deal, the state will take jurisdiction of 15.5 miles of Highway J from Capitol Drive in Waukesha County to state Highway 175 in the Town of Polk in Washington County on Jan. 1.

The state's jurisdiction of the road will be extended in 2004 to include the segment from Capitol Drive to I-94 after the county widens that segment from two to four lanes.

"County J has outgrown its status as a local arterial and serves a much broader region," said Roger Cupps, a department planning team leader. "It has become a major connector route. It can provide better access from U.S. 41 to Waukesha as a state road."

The agreement shifts responsibility for maintaining Highway J from the counties to the state. Also, the state plans to expand the highway in several years to accommodate the increased volume.

According to the department, the traffic volume along the highway ranges from 10,400 vehicles per day north of Capitol Drive in Waukesha County to 4,020 south of state Highway 175 near Ackerville in Washington County.

Also beginning Jan. 1 as part of the agreement:

* State Highway 164 will be rerouted west on state Highway 190 (Capitol Drive) to County J, then north to state Highway 175 at Ackerville. The highway will be renamed state Highway 164 for the length of the route.

* State Highway 74 will be extended south from its intersection with state Highway 164 in Sussex to meet state Highway 164 and state Highway 190.

* The county will take jurisdiction of 8.5 miles of state Highway 99 in Waukesha County from south of Eagle to Mukwonago. The highway, which primarily functions as a local road, will become County LO, after longtime County Board Chairman Lloyd Owens. The highway designation was unveiled last week during a ceremony honoring Owens.

* The county will also take jurisdiction of the Goerkes Corners park-and-ride lot. But if improvements along the East-West Corridor require improvements to the lot, the state will pay for them.


1999 WisDOT announced it was studying the widening of CTH J/SR 164

    Abt 1998-1999: County Trunk Highway J north of Capitol Drive is renamed State Road 164. 

    SR 164 now runs from Moreland Blvd in city of Waukesha, north to Capitol Drive, then proceeds west along Capitol Drive, then north on former CTH J, until terminating at SR 175 (Appleton Ave.) in Ackerville, Washington County. 

    Later, after the so called Ackerville bridge is built (over SR 175), Lover's Lane is renamed SR 164 and continues to CTH 60 in Slinger, Washington county. Note: In the city of Waukesha, SR 164 runs east along Moreland Blvd. (SR18) then southwest, then turning once more south/southeast to Big Bend, traveling under Interstate I-43 and continuing south.


The Asphalt Rebellion - Area residents fighting Highway 164 widening project are part of an increasingly vocal movement nationwide challenging road plans that threaten their way of life - For foes, plan isn't progress, it's destruction

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Tuesday, November 16, 1999
Author: LARRY SANDLER, Journal Sentinel staff

Standing on the farm where he grew up, David Rankin looked out at the highway that's always been there and the protest signs that showed up this year.

"I've lived here all my life," said Rankin, a Lisbon mechanic. "I've seen all the changes here, 62 years of it. I can't stop progress. You really can't stop progress. But I think there's going to be a lot of upset people when they find out the road's going to be in their front porch."

A lot of people who live along state Highway 164 in Waukesha and Washington counties are already upset. And even if they can't stop progress, they're doing all they can to stop this particular four-lane version of it.

The neighbors' crusade against widening the newly designated state highway from two lanes to four is the latest example of a national movement dubbed "the asphalt rebellion." And the rebels are armed with more than yard signs.

From Wauwatosa Road to the Kickapoo Valley, from S. 27th St. to the Baraboo Hills, from Lincoln Memorial Drive to La Crosse and along dozens of other roads across the country, Internet-savvy neighbors and town boards are joining forces with professional activists and renegade traffic engineers to challenge state transportation departments and road builders.

They are mounting increasingly sophisticated -- and increasingly successful -- campaigns to prevent roads from being built or expanded in directions that threaten their homes and farms. And they are talking to each other.

"We are using the same strategy, the same information, the same model" as groups fighting the widening of Wauwatosa Road in Mequon and of U.S. Highway 12 in Dane and Sauk counties, said Jeffrey Gonyo, spokesman for the citizens group that has mobilized against widening Highway 164.

That group's trademark is displayed in David Rankin's front yard and in the yards of many of his neighbors: a small white sign with a red circle and a slash through the words "4 lanes."

The controversy focuses on a stretch of road that starts as Waukesha County Highway J at I-94, passing businesses, subdivisions and office parks on its way to Capitol Drive. Then the road becomes Highway 164, curving through rolling hills and fields, punctuated by occasional concentrations of homes and businesses, into Washington County and up to state Highway 60.

Not long ago, all of this two-lane road was called county Highway J in both counties. But under a deal reached last year, the state took over the stretch from Capitol to Highway 60 and started studying whether it should be widened. The same deal called for Waukesha County to widen the stretch from I-94 to Capitol, then hand that over to the state as well.

That deal reflects the highway's potential as a major north-south route between Waukesha and Washington counties, linking I-94 with U.S. Highway 41 and connecting the growing communities of Waukesha, Pewaukee, Sussex , Slinger and Hartford, said Kenneth Yunker, assistant director of the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission.

The commission has recommended expanding the road to four lanes, based on standards that say four lanes can be justified by an average of 7,000 cars a day in rural areas and 13,000 cars a day in urban or suburban areas, said Bryan Bliesner, state Department of Transportation project manager.

Traffic already tops those levels in Waukesha County but not in Washington County, Bliesner said. However, projections suggest traffic on the Washington County stretch will grow about 70% in 25 years, he added.

Marijean Janzer has seen the traffic grow as it zips past her home in Richfield's tiny Pleasant Hill community. She knows it will keep growing. That's why she doesn't have a protest sign in her yard.

"Nobody likes progress in their own backyard," Janzer said. "We don't like it (the proposed widening), because it would take part of our (front) yard. But I don't see a way around it."

But the traffic is only heavy in the morning and evening rush hours, and light the rest of the day, said James Burant, owner of the Pleasant Hill Tap. The 109-year-old tavern is built close to the highway and would likely be leveled by any expansion.

Across the street, surrounded by the toys of her three small children, Shelia Hansen fears her home will suffer the same fate. Hansen said she and her husband bought the 137-year-old former cheese factory from his mother "because we want the kids to grow up where their dad grew up."

Like Hansen, Robert Deede would like to see an alternative that doesn't "come right through the center of my house," which stands on a scenic hill in Sussex .

"I built the house many years ago," said Deede, a retired millwright. "Raised my family here. Now, in the twilight of my career, I want to live in my house."

Gonyo says Hansen and Deede could stay in their homes, and Burant could keep his bar, if the state follows the recommendations of his organization, the Highway J Citizens Group.

The group has proposed building a new road along an electric power line right of way in Menomonee Falls, avoiding homes and businesses. The Transportation Department has asked the planning commission to study that alternative.

Menomonee Falls Village President Joe Greco has blasted the alternate plan as a not-in-my-backyard proposal that could threaten wetlands. Gonyo said Menomonee Falls residents would benefit from the alternate route, and wetlands also could be threatened by widening Highway 164.

In addition to the alternate route, Gonyo said the state could improve traffic flow and safety on Highway 164 by adding turning lanes and stoplights at major intersections and cutting the speed limit to 45 mph.

An afternoon drive along the highway last week showed traffic backs up mainly at intersections, many of which are controlled by stop signs rather than stoplights. And federal figures show three of every five traffic deaths in Wisconsin occur on two-lane roads with 55-mph speed limits, like Highway 164.

In designing its alternate plan, the citizens group has downloaded safety data and traffic studies from the Internet, and has relied on the advice of Walter Kulash, a Florida-based traffic engineer who also aided the Wauwatosa Road and Highway 12 opponents, Gonyo said.

Kulash is part of a band of engineers and planners who challenge established guidelines that suggest wider roads are safer, and who urge greater sensitivity to neighborhoods. Some of those engineers are rising through the ranks at state transportation departments, said Rob Kennedy, state director of the New Transportation Alliance.

Kennedy's group, which is also aiding the highway opponents, is a coalition of environmentalists and community activists affiliated with the Surface Transportation Policy Project, a media-savvy Washington think tank whose studies typically critique highway expansion and support public transit, bicycle paths and pedestrian walkways.

About 20 to 25 times a year, people who live near a planned Wisconsin road project call the New Transportation Alliance for help, Kennedy said.

That trend worries Tom Walker, executive director of the Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association and a former Transportation Department official.

While residents have "a truly legitimate concern about the transportation system in their neighborhood," Walker said, "My biggest concern is the external political agenda that's coming in and taking advantage of the situation."

Part of that agenda is what Walker calls an "ideological" belief that highway expansion encourages urban sprawl by providing an incentive for far-flung development. But Walker and the planning commission's Yunker contend that stopping road expansion would only worsen congestion as development continues.

One thing Walker, Kennedy and the Transportation Department's Bliesner agree on is that highway opposition movements have been growing in recent years -- largely as a result of federal laws requiring more public participation -- and that transportation officials are paying more attention to what they say.

The Milwaukee County freeway system was built by bulldozing city neighborhoods "with standard 1960s insensitivity," Walker said. Now transportation officials must hold public hearings, consider land-use impacts and add landscaping to meet community demands, he said.

As a result of local opposition in the last two years, the Transportation Department has abandoned plans to widen S. 27th St. in Milwaukee and has delayed plans to widen Wauwatosa Road. Milwaukee County officials have changed some aspects of Lincoln Memorial Drive reconstruction.

Also, state plans for an $80 million highway through La Crosse appear to have been shelved, if not abandoned, after residents voted by a 2-1 ratio against the project in a referendum.

But neighbors have lost many other battles, Kennedy said. And controversies continue over widening Highway 12 and rebuilding state Highway 131 in Vernon County, among others.

As for Highway 164, Bliesner says a final decision on the project is expected sometime next year. And neighbors like Shelia Hansen are still fighting, but they realize victory is far from certain.

"We're hoping, but there's not a lot we can do," Hansen said. ------------ Local and state officials will hold a joint hearing on the Highway 164 project at 7:30 tonight in the Hamilton High School gymnasium, W220-N6151 Town Line Road, Lisbon.
Caption: Chart JOHN PINCHARD Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin Department of Transportation Crowded lanes According to the state Department of Transportation, traffic on the Waukesha County portion of Highway 164 already meets the standard for expansion to four lanes -- 7,000 cars a day in a rural area or 13,000 cars a day in the suburbs -- while Washington County traffic is projected to grow into that range. LOCATION AVERAGE DAILY TRAFFIC CURRENT* PROJECTED FOR 2025 Waukesha County North of Capitol Drive 10,000 17,000 South of County Highway VV 12,000 19,000 North of County Highway VV 14,000 23,000 Washington County North of County Highway Q 7,200 12,500 North of state Highway 167 6,400 11,000 South of state Highway 175 4,700 7,800 * Waukesha County figures are from 1997; Washington County figures are from 1998. Map JOHN PINCHARD Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Highway J Citizens Group Which way to Washington County The state Department of Transporation wants to widen state Highway 164 to four lanes, turning it into the major north-south route between Waukesha and Washington counties. But residents opposed to the widening have persuaded the state to study building a new road parallel to county Highway Y. State's widening plan Community group plan Photo ELIZABETH FLORES STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER A sign protesting the Highway 164 project sits in the front yard of David Rankin's farm. The sign is the trademark of the Highway J Citizens Group, which has mobilized against the state transportation project. A final decision on the matter is expected next year. Photos color 1, 2 ELIZABETH FLORES STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Above: Shelia Hansen of the Pleasant Hill community in Richfield stands along busy Highway 164, the site of a proposed road widening project. Hansen and her family, who remodeled a 137-year-old former cheese factory, fear they will lose their home if the state highway project proceeds. Top: James Burant, owner of the Pleasant Hill Tap, may lose his tavern if Highway 164 is expanded.
Memo: For graphic see microfilm or bound file


Suit seeks to remove disputed bridge - Citizens group says state violated law at Highway 164 span

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Friday, August 23, 2002

Author: DON BEHM, Journal Sentinel staff

Federal Judge Lynn Adelman could rule within a few weeks on a citizens group lawsuit seeking both demolition of a Highway 164 bridge, now under construction south of Slinger, and a prohibition against the widening of Highway 164 in Waukesha and Washington counties, the judge's clerk said Thursday.

The Highway J Citizens Group lawsuit alleges that the state Department of Transportation violated the National Environmental Policy Act when it proceeded with construction of the bridge without fully monitoring the proximity of already polluted groundwater to the site.

"If the court finds there was a violation, we're asking the court to remove the bridge," said Robert Corris, a Milwaukee attorney representing the citizens group. Highway 164 formerly was known as Highway J .

The DOT is nearing completion of a $5.2 million embankment that will carry Highway 164 above Highway 175 and a pair of rail lines at the unincorporated community of Ackerville in the Town of Polk. The project also includes rebuilding of a one-mile section of Lover's Lane, between Highways 60 and 175, that will be renamed Highway 164 .

Bridge likely to stay

Demolition of the bridge would be an unlikely outcome even if the lawsuit is successful, according to Frank Remington, an assistant attorney general with the state Justice Department. He is representing the DOT.

The usual remedy if a judge finds there had been a violation of the act is for the court to order a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement, Remington said.

The citizens group believes an Environmental Impact Statement should be done on both the bridge project and on the proposed widening of Highway 164 to four lanes, according to the lawsuit, filed last month in federal court in Milwaukee. The state DOT has completed only a more limited Environmental Assessment on both projects.

In addition, the citizens group asks Adelman to order the DOT to pump grout into holes where steel pilings were driven into the soil to support the bridge.

Driving steel pilings to depths of 80 feet will increase the permeability of soil and speed the spread of the contaminant, arsenic, from an area west of the bridge to private wells east of the construction site, the citizens group has said.

The lawsuit was filed with the goals of "maintaining Highway 164 as a two-lane, scenic rural road and protecting the land and water in the area of the Ackerville bridge from further contamination with arsenic and trichloroethylene," according to the complaint filed by Corris.

Both the DOT and state Department of Natural Resources have said the construction project would not affect groundwater quality in the area.

Tests of water samples collected in April and July from six special monitoring wells affirm the state's position, said Ken Wade, a hazardous materials engineer with the DOT in Waukesha.

"The tests confirm that the project will not impact movement of contaminants," Wade said.

Arsenic was detected in only one water sample, and that was such a small amount that the laboratory could not quantify how much was there, according to Art Baumann, the DOT's design engineer for the project.

The source of the arsenic in groundwater west of the bridge site could be rocks and soil, according to DNR officials. Chemicals seeping out of a former landfill probably leach naturally occurring arsenic from the rocks and soil.

Small amounts of trichloroethylene, a solvent known as TCE, also were detected in two of the monitoring wells in both tests. None of those results violated the state health standard for the chemical.

There is such a small amount of TCE in groundwater west of the bridge site that it does not justify the expense of trying to remove it, DNR officials have said. The TCE likely came from an unreported spill along the rail lines.

The Highway 164 overpass is needed to reduce the risk of accidents at the railroad crossings and the skewed intersection of highways 164 and 175, according to DOT officials.

About 5,000 vehicles drive on Highway 164 there each day, and more than 35 trains pass through Ackerville on tracks owned by Wisconsin Central Ltd. and Wisconsin Southern Railroad.


Lawsuit seeking to demolish bridge dismissed - DOT tests have not found contamination that has worried group

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Friday, June 6, 2003

Author: DON BEHM, [email protected], Journal Sentinel

Just three weeks before the $5.28 million Highway 164 bridge south of Slinger will open to traffic for the first time, a federal judge has dismissed a July 2002 citizens group lawsuit seeking to demolish the structure.

Federal Judge Charles Clevert rejected the Highway "J" Citizens Group claim that the state Department of Transportation violated federal environmental laws by constructing the bridge without fully monitoring the proximity of contaminated groundwater to the site.

Highway 164 was Highway J before the state assumed jurisdiction over it.

Jeff Gonyo, a Town of Polk resident, and other members of the group had said that driving support pilings for the bridge would enable contaminants from an area west of the highway to flow east toward private wells in the unincorporated community of Ackerville.

By the time the group had filed its lawsuit, however, a majority of 150 of 177 pilings, or nearly 85%, already had been placed in the ground, Clevert says in a written decision released Thursday.

The Departments of Transportation and Natural Resources had taken a "hard look" at the impact of the pilings on movement of contaminants and concluded that the project would not affect groundwater quality, the judge says.

Tests of groundwater before and during the placing of pilings found that concentrations of two contaminants of concern to the citizens -- arsenic and a solvent known as TCE -- did not increase, confirming the earlier conclusion, according to Clevert.

Gonyo said Thursday that he would not comment on Clevert's decision. He referred a reporter to the group's Milwaukee attorney, Robert Corris.

A receptionist at the Corris law firm said that he was out of the office and would not comment until after he had reviewed the judge's decision.

Art Baumann, the design project manager for the DOT, said Thursday that he expected the judge would uphold the department's earlier decisions on the basis of its environmental studies.

"I'm pleased with the results," Baumann said of Clevert's decision.

Water tests still clean

Recent tests continue to show that the contaminants have not been stirred up by construction activities and pushed east toward Ackerville, Baumann said.

Monitoring has not detected TCE. The solvent, which has been found in small amounts in groundwater hundreds of feet west of the bridge, likely came from an unreported, small-quantity spill along the rail lines, according to Philip Fauble, a hydrogeologist with the state Department of Natural Resources.

Arsenic concentrations also remain so low in monitoring wells immediately west of the bridge that the substance likely is coming from natural sources, such as rocks and soil, Fauble said.

Though Clevert concludes that the DOT's environmental assessment of the project was adequate and that there was no need for a full-scale environmental impact statement, the judge includes one criticism of transportation officials in his 56-page opinion.

The department should have scheduled an additional public meeting after a final decision was made on the depths of the pilings, Clevert says.

"Given the degree of controversy this project had aroused, additional public involvement might have been wise," the judge says in his decision.

The 1.4-mile-long overpass rises 30 feet above Highway 175 at Ackerville and spans a pair of rail lines. The project includes rebuilding of a one-mile section of Lover's Lane, between Highways 60 and 175, that will be renamed Highway 164 .

DOT officials have said that the bridge was necessary to improve safety at the intersections of Highways 164 and 175 and at the Highway 164 crossings of the rail lines.

The citizens group's lawsuit says that the bridge was built simply in preparation for future expansion of Highway 164 to four lanes. Clevert rejects that claim in his opinion.

Safety issue confirmed

The judge cites a highway safety report that counted 35 accidents in this section of Highway 164 in 1999 and 2000. "The majority of these crashes, 23 of 35, took place at the intersection of 164 and 175," the judge says.

Safety problems could not have been alleviated by installing traffic lights and gates at the rail crossings, the judge says in supporting the state's decision to build the bridge.

One reason the bridge was a better choice is that during train use of the tracks, vehicle traffic would have continued to back up on Highway 164 north to Highway 175, creating congestion at the busy intersection, state officials have said.


Washington County overpass to remain standing - Group loses appeal to raze Highway 164 bridge

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Author: DON BEHM, [email protected], Journal Sentinel

A panel of three federal appellate judges has denied a request by a Washington County citizens group to demolish the Highway 164 bridge south of Slinger that opened to traffic in late June.

Judges from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled that state transportation officials had fully complied with federal environmental laws in carefully studying local residents' concerns about potential groundwater contamination that might have been caused by bridge construction.

The state Department of Transportation met its responsibility in taking a "hard look" at the environmental consequences of the project, the three-judge panel said in a written decision.

"We disagree with the decision," said Robert Corris, a Milwaukee attorney representing the Highway J Citizens Group. Highway 164 was known as Highway J .

At this time, the group has only two options should it decide to push its legal case, but success is not assured on either route, Corris said. The group could ask for reconsideration before the entire 15-member appeals court in Chicago, or it could appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Generally, when the 7th Circuit affirms a federal district court's decision, that is typically the end of the case," Corris said.

Last year, the group filed a federal lawsuit alleging that DOT had not fully monitored the proximity of previously contaminated groundwater to the bridge construction site. Federal Judge Charles Clevert in Milwaukee rejected the claim in early June of this year, just three weeks before the $5.28 million project opened to traffic, and the citizens group appealed to the 7th Circuit.

The 1.4-mile-long overpass rises 30 feet above Highway 175 at Ackerville and spans a pair of rail lines. The project also included rebuilding a one-mile section of Lovers Lane, between Highways 60 and 175, that was renamed Highway 164 .

The bridge was needed to improve safety at the intersection of Highways 164 and 175 and at the Highway 164 crossings of the two rail lines, transportation officials have said.

Driving steel pilings deep underground to support the weight of the overpass was creating a route for contaminants west of the bridge to flow up, to the top of groundwater, and then flow east to private wells in the unincorporated community of Ackerville, the Highway J Citizens Group claimed in its lawsuit.

To prevent contamination of the Ackerville wells, the group asked that grout be pumped around each piling to prevent the movement of contaminants. Its request has now been rejected both by Clevert and on appeal to the 7th Circuit.

Grout was not necessary, according to the state Department of Natural Resources. The soil opening around the pilings would not provide a conduit for contaminants to move more freely between levels of groundwater, DNR officials said in documents released in 2000.

The only way to place grout at each piling would be to remove the bridge and the embankment of soil that supports it, according to Art Baumann, the DOT's design project manager for the Ackerville bridge.

In response to citizen concerns, the DOT had installed three pair of monitoring wells immediately west of the bridge site. Tests of groundwater from the wells showed that the level of contaminants did not increase during construction.

More recent tests show that two contaminants of concern to the group -- the solvent TCE and arsenic -- are not being pushed east toward Ackerville, Baumann said.

TCE has been found in such small amounts in groundwater hundreds of feet west of the bridge that it does not justify the expense of trying to remove it, DNR officials have said. The likely source is an unreported, small-quantity spill along the rail lines.


A state Division of Public Health report on Ackerville groundwater will be available later this month on the Web site of the state Department of Health and Family Services. Go to: and then select the link to public health assessment reports.


Highway J widening will begin on Monday - Crash rate exceeds statewide rate for comparable roads

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Author: JACQUELINE SEIBEL, [email protected], Journal Sentinel

City of Pewaukee -- Reconstruction of a 2.5-mile stretch of Highway J , the first of three phases of the Highway 164 project, begins Monday.

Highway J will be widened from two lanes to four lanes from Rockwood Drive to Swan Road at a cost of $9.4 million.

The road expansion must be completed by Nov. 12, said Bruce Barnes, project manager for the state Department of Transportation.

Once completed, Highway J will be renamed Highway 164 from Rockwood Drive to Capitol Drive, joining Highway 164 to the north of Capitol Drive.

The current stretch of Highway 164 between I-94 and Capitol Drive will be renamed Highway F at the request of Waukesha County, Barnes said.

The project is necessary because the crash rate is more than double the statewide rate for comparable roads, Barnes said. Traffic volumes have increased and contributed to the crashes. The current average daily traffic volume of that section of Highway J is 18,000 vehicles and is anticipated to grow to 22,000 vehicles by 2025, he said.

The federal government will pay for 80% of the project, and the remaining 20% will be paid by the state and county governments.

The second phase of the road-widening project, scheduled to be done in 2005, is from Swan Road north to just south of Highway VV in the Town of Lisbon.

The third and final phase of the Highway 164 project in Waukesha County is scheduled for 2006. The Highway VV and Highway 164 intersection will be reconstructed along with Highway 164 north to Howard Lane.

Traffic counts significantly drop off at Howard Lane, so any further widening of Highway 164 would not take place for at least 10 years, Barnes said. Any change in the construction schedule would depend on traffic counts, he added.

Expansion of the highway in Washington County will be scheduled when traffic patterns warrant, something the DOT projects would occur in 2025 or later.

The new four-lane road will provide an increased capacity for traffic, which should reduce congestion, Barnes has said. The 30-foot wide medians, 12-foot driving lanes and turn lanes should reduce chances of vehicles crossing into oncoming traffic. Controlled access points and the construction of a frontage road will improve safety and traffic flow and provide access to business along Highway J .

Contractor Hoffman Construction Co. of Black River Falls will install new traffic signals and turn lanes at the intersections of Highway J with S. Riverwood Drive, Ridgeview Parkway West and Green Road.

Also part of the project is the installation of a new traffic signal at the existing Highway 164 intersection with Ridgeview Parkway East.

Traffic lanes along Highway J will remain open during the construction, but detours will be available at Watertown Road.

City of Pewaukee Police Chief Gary Bach said the department has been involved in the construction plans. The department plans to continually watch the traffic and the progress and address problems as they arise, he said.

"It's going to be overwhelming," Bach said. "We're in for a long spring and summer."


Group tries to stop highway project - Sierra Club cites wetlands destruction in bid to derail widening

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Author: DAVE SHEELEY, [email protected], Journal Sentinel

The Sierra Club is attempting to halt the expansion of Highway 164 in Waukesha County next year by asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deny a permit needed for the project.

"We want to make Highway 164 safer, not wider," said Brett Hulsey, senior Midwest representative of the Sierra Club in Madison.

The state Department of Transportation has asked the corps for a permit to fill about nine acres of wetlands to expand the highway from two lanes to four from Swan Road, in the City of Pewaukee, to just south of Highway VV in Sussex. The project will cost about $12.5 million.

Dale Pfeiffle, an environmental protection specialist with the corps, said his agency will evaluate the Sierra Club's request that the permit, which Hulsey says is to destroy wetlands, be rejected. The club submitted the request last week.

In addition to the club's input, the corps has received about 40 comments from residents, groups such as the Highway J Citizens Group and others. Almost all oppose giving the state the corps' permit, Pfeiffle said.

The Sierra Club also asked the corps to conduct a public hearing on the Department of Transportation's permit request before ruling.

Filling the wetland, a type of land disappearing in southeastern Wisconsin, would cause flooding problems, water pollution and destroy habitat for animals, the Sierra Club says in its 10-page request.

For more than two years, the club has been critical of the Highway 164 expansion, saying it isn't needed and will cause additional traffic and pollution. In 2002, the club called the widening one of the worst transportation projects in the nation.

Transportation department officials, however, have said other alternatives to widening Highway 164 were explored and wouldn't relieve increasing traffic on the road.

The agency plans to replace the wetlands with new ones elsewhere in the state. And, as part of the project, the state agency plans to build storm water detention ponds and habitat for threatened species, such as the Butler's garter snake.

The Transportation Department is asking for Corps of Engineers permission to use nearly 86,000 cubic yards of fill near tributaries to Pewaukee Lake and Sussex Creek. That would allow widening the highway from Swan Road to just south of Highway VV -- the second of three phases of the highway's entire widening project scheduled for completion in 2006.

The first phase, with a price tag of about $9.5 million, is under way. The expansion of Highway J from Rockwood Drive, just north of I-94, to Swan Road is scheduled to be competed by November, said Bruce Barnes, a DOT project manager.

The estimated $5.5 million third phase involves reconstruction of the Highway VV and Highway 164 intersection, along with improvements to the highway north to Howard Lane in Lisbon.

Hulsey said the Transportation Department has not considered practical alternatives to the Highway 164 project, such as using the four-lane Highway 74 about a mile east.

But Brian Bliesner, a DOT project supervisor, said developing that alternative route would destroy more wetland than the Highway 164 project.

He said land around the corridor is developing, causing an increase in traffic and a need for a wider, safer road.

"Waukesha County is developing and has been developing for the last 20 years. The traffic is going to be there whether we widen the road or not," Bliesner said.


    December 2004: CTH J from I-94 thru to Capitol Drive renamed SR 164. Former SR 164 from Interstate I-94 to Capitol Drive now becomes CTH F.

    April 2005: Widening construction begins on SR 164 from Capitol Drive, north to Prospect Court (just south of M&I bank in Sussex).

    In 2006, the highway is scheduled to be expanded from Prospect Court to Howard Lane in the Town of Lisbon.

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