Feb. 1 2017 – There were 250 people in attendance Tuesday night at Hartford Town Hall for what was supposed to be an opportunity for the public to comment…. or, not so much. Washington County Administrator Joshua Schoemann said he “didn’t know.”
Melissa Kratz, chairperson of the No Reliever Route group, said she had questions throughout the week regarding the format of the meeting.
“Its posted notice read, “Your Opportunity for Public Comment,”” said Kratz.
“That’s what everybody else thought would happen too and that’s why everybody showed up.”
Instead the format morphed into Washington County Highway Commissioner Scott Schmidt and Jeremy Hinds with K. Singh & Associates outlining the proposed alternate route and then splitting into groups around the room to field questions one on one with people in attendance.
During the explanation segment there is a video with Hinds detailing the construction in St. Lawrence and the impact on historic buildings including the church and The Little Red Inn.
Later in the meeting Hinds detailed the cost behind the project; with 30% of the proposal outlined the anticipated cost has risen from $20 million to just under $24 million.
Other aspects that have changed include:
-a SEWRPC study that indicated the lost farm acres would increased from 38.9 acres to 52.6 acres.
-the number of residences impacted have also increased from 43 to 53.
-the reliever route project ends at the western side of the bridge over the railroad tracks west of I41. Early word is the county is not anticipating doing any work on the I41/Hwy K interchange.
Neighbor Ben Gehring thought that part of the project was a cost-saving measure. “They quit the project before the railroad bridge on Highway K before I 41 to also help keep the cost down on their budget plan but the bridge will need repairs and that will cost money. I thought that was very poor with the presentation. The trucks are going to have to cross the bridge to get on the highway so why isn’t the bridge part of the budget plan. This budget is only 30 percent done and it has gone from $20 million to $23.9 million. How much more is it going to cost when the study is 100 percent complete. Tonight’s meeting did nothing but make me against this reliever route even more.”
The Reliever Route is being proposed by Hartford and Washington County to help ease some of the truck traffic on Highway 60. There will be no money coming from the state for this project and all taxpayers in Washington County will be directly impacted by the costs.
The next meeting is Tuesday, Feb. 14 at 7:30 a.m.
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