A standing-room-only crowd packed the Brooklyn Town Hall Tuesday, challenging officials again and again on multiple aspects of the upcoming highway reconstruction from Green Lake to Ripon.
There wasn’t much room for people — or patience.
On center stage were plans for bicycles. Many citizens were displeased about the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) plans for “five-foot paved shoulders for bicycle accommodations” along the highway.
Several citizens don’t feel that is safe, and pushed passionately for a separate, paved, multi-use path off the highway, to be built with the reconstruction.
A path of this nature is being built alongside the highway from the Green Lake Conference Center to Green Lake’s North Street/County Road A, and supporters want to extend it to Ripon.
But Tuesday, the packed room grew testy during the hour-plus meeting, as DOT leaders said the plans are basically done for the 2014 highway reconstruction, meaning it’s too late to include a separate path.
Project Manger Dan Holloway — seeming to choose his words carefully — explained local governments needed to take the lead on planning and funding a path, and that never happened.
“In general, there needed to be local government support, financially and for maintenance, and it needed to happen early on [in the planning process]. And it didn’t happen,” Holloway said. “... And the project moved on.”
Green Lake County Board Chairman Jack Meyers of Dalton addressed the crowd.
“What he said is true,” Meyers said. “... Everything we’re doing for a bike path is late.”
Meyers noted there’s “quite a list of people who would like to see this happen,” and said he’d continue working with the DOT to make the path happen later in the future, if possible.
Several area citizens were not satisfied.
Biking enthusiast Jerry Specht said a five-foot shoulder for bicycles along Highway 23 is “a suicidal-type thing.” That extra pavement could be eliminated, with funds diverted toward a separate path, Specht suggested, drawing applause.
Holloway said it’s too late for such changes.
“This project has been in the design process for many years ... Our plans are basically done,” Holloway said.
Multiple times during Tuesday's meeting, DOT officials struggled to maintain order. Citizen after citizen interrupted to address the crowd during what was supposed to be an informational presentation by the DOT ... Read the full story, only in the May 9 issue of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.
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