A public input session was held on November 8 at the Kohler Village Hall regarding next spring’s reconstruction project of County Road PP (Lower Falls Road) from Highland Drive in Kohler east to the Sheboygan River bridge.
On hand to field questions from the public were Sheboygan County Transportation Director Greg Schnell, Aaron Brault and Emily Stewart from the Department of Planning and Conservation, two engineers involved with designing the project from Strand and Associates – Ashley Pridemore and Josh Straka, and Kohler Village Board President Tom Schnettler and the Village’s Public Works Superintendent Brett Edgerle.
Schnell said the County hopes to begin work in May, 2018 and finish up by the end of July. But he cautioned that estimation could be affected by a number of factors that are beyond the County’s control, including weather, the involvement of several contractors, and work on a retaining wall that has to be rebuilt.
The first phase of the project will begin at the intersection of Highland Drive and Lower Falls Road, including part of West Riverside Drive. The sections will be rebuilt and asphalted. Four-way stop signs will replace the current traffic lights, as the lights are outdated and parts are no longer available to repair them. Four-way stop signs are much less costly than new traffic lights. The west end of Lower Road will end in a cul-de-sac, rather than entering Riverside Drive as it currently does. Roosevelt Road will then be the only access road to Lower Falls Rd. from the Southside neighborhood.
Blackwolf Run will remain open during work on the intersection, but traffic will be temporarily rerouted onto Roosevelt Road. Some residents in that area expressed concern for the safety of children, especially around Roosevelt Park, as cars currently speed down Riverside Drive. Village Board President Tom Schnettler said a police presence will have to be put there to make it as safe as possible.
The first phase will require drivers to and from Sheboygan and Sheboygan Falls to seek alternative routes.
When asked why the project was necessary, Schnell said the concrete is in poor shape and the County receives constant complaints. He said the stretch of road is rated three out of ten. This project also gives the County the opportunity to narrow the road, reducing future maintenance costs. The road was originally built to handle a much larger capacity of traffic than is currently needed.
The current four lanes will be reconstructed to three lanes from Highland Drive to a roundabout at County Road PP and County Road A, to better accommodate traffic control during future large golf events. Two of the three lanes can be utilized for ingress traffic before the event, then again for egress traffic post-event. From the roundabout east to the Sheboygan Bridge just before Taylor Drive, the road will be two lanes.
A temporary detour road will be available around the roundabout construction area for Kohler Co. employees.
Residents expressed concerns that during the roundabout construction, trucks that miss the turn into Kohler Co. on Highland Drive will need go all the way to Blackwolf Run to turn around, or down other streets in their neighborhood. Scnhell said those kids of issues are to be expected, as road construction is never easy. Kohler Co. has been involved with logistics planning during the construction.
Responding to a resident who asked if a four-way stop at the intersection of Highland and Lower Falls would cause hazardous traffic backup down Lower Falls, Aaron Brault said four-way stop signs move traffic faster, with drivers not having to sit and wait for a light to turn green.
A bike path will be added that will run parallel to the newly constructed road, with green space separating the road from the path. Due to constrictions by Union Pacific Railroad, the bike trail will run north of Lower Falls Road from Highland Drive until the roundabout at Cty. A, then it will cross over at the roundabout and run south of Lower Falls to the sheboygan River bridge across from the future Art Preserve project, which is being directed by Ruth DeYoung Kohler. A future phase will connect the trail to the current trail along Taylor Drive in Sheboygan.
Schnell said the old concrete will be recycled and utilized throughout the project. Some landscaping will also be added.
Video by The Kohler Villager. Artist renderings courtesy of Strand Associates.