Street extension studies get village go-ahead

Nov. 3, 2009

Noting some concerns about Brookfield's plan to connect Wisconsin Avenue to Pilgrim Parkway, including fears of increased traffic, Elm Grove plan commissioners backed the city's plans to gather hard data and put together a specific proposal.

"I believe that this intersection, that there are a lot of positives associated with it, that the city has worked hard at this issue of transportation improvements across a much wider issue. At the very least, this should move forward," Village President Neil Palmer said after hearing the city's presentation on the plan Monday.

Conceptual plans call for Wisconsin Avenue to connect to Pilgrim north of the Watertown Plank Road intersection across from the driveway at Elliot's Ace Hardware. Pilgrim would be widened to accommodate added traffic.

Currently, Wisconsin Avenue ends at Main Street, behind the Fountain Square shopping center. Elm Grove owns 100 feet of right of way along Pilgrim that the road would have to cross.

Having affirmed the village's interest in seeing more data, the city now will take on environmental, economic and traffic engineering studies.

Panel requests information

While the commission gave the go-ahead to start the studies, commissioners do have reservations about the proposal.

"It looks like a good portion of the improvements that need to be done on Pilgrim Parkway are actually in the village of Elm Grove. Is part of your proposal going to be that you pay for the development costs associated with those improvements?" commission member Jonathan Hyndiuk asked the Brookfield officials.

The city has not made a decision about that yet, said Brookfield Director of Public Works Tom Grisa.

"Brookfield would be looking at bearing a portion of most of those costs, but we are looking for partners," he said.

Commission members also requested projections for traffic levels in the area, with and without an interchange at Calhoun Road - a concept that the Wisconsin Avenue linkage could open up.

A feasibility study conducted in the late 1990s identified a list of improvements that would need to be made in the area before a Calhoun interchange, which could alleviate congestion at the Moorland Road interchange, would be considered. Palmer said the connection of Wisconsin is the last item on that list.

The state Department of Transportation has made no commitments regarding such an interchange at this time.

Residents worry about traffic

City representatives said they believe the road extension will alleviate traffic on Bluemound and reduce the number of accidents, but some Elm Grove residents living near the proposed Wisconsin Avenue/Pilgrim Parkway intersection worry that traffic will move closer to their homes.

Joanne and Donald Clauser of the 800 block of Pilgrim Parkway are concerned that a proposed median near their driveway, combined with increased traffic, would impede their ability to leave their home.

"Instead of having a bottleneck where it is right now, you're going to have it right smack in front of our driveway," Joanne said. "How are we and all the other people supposed to get out?"

Donald said he feels the addition of a Wisconsin intersection would exacerbate current problems by bringing more traffic and adding another signal to an already difficult stretch.

He requested officials also look into how the added asphalt would affect drainage, as flooding has been a problem in the area.

All in all, there is a need for hard data, most people agreed.

"I don't see much of a benefit to Elm Grove for this intersection," commission member Jonathan Hyndiuk said. "I think it would cause a lot more problems than it's worth, but without actually having the hard data to look at, it's hard build a good argument either way."

Once the city has completed its studies, it will present the results to the Elm Grove Plan Commission for its review. The decision about whether to proceed with the work would come after that.

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