Highway Committee discusses recent & upcoming topics

The Marquette County Highway Committee met on August 17th, hearing updates on testing done on the County D causeway at Packwaukee and other projects.

Phase 2 studies at the causeway included 11 borings and soundings to explore the stability and potential long-term settlement of the structure, which spans Buffalo Lake. Highway Commissioner Brian Trebiatowski read a preliminary report from engineers, who are still refining their models and will submit final results at a future date.

One thing is does point out is the embankment safety will need “alternate construction technique methods” in a section near the center of the causeway to attain a suitable factor of safety there. A large amount of peat under the structure is a concern. Numerous potential options that might be available to achieve that were listed. One of those options would extend the project over a year, starting in 2022.

The importance of this section of road was stressed, as committee members recalled how traffic needed to cross the causeway when flooding impacted Marquette County on a few occasions in recent years. Trebiatowski noted that the State will not do any improvements on Highway 22 in Montello, which closed for several days most recently during the flooding in the Fall of 2018. Another problem spot on County O by the Fox River in the Town of Buffalo cannot be lifted, as that would cause pressure issues for the timber piles under there. The causeway therefore, becomes vital to allow residents and services to get from one part of the county to the other in these emergencies.

The causeway project is scheduled in the Highway Department’s capital plan for 2023, Trebiatowski said. The proposal was to raise the grade there and stabilize it, correcting issues left behind during a previous improvement project. He is hoping that the Phase 2 report will include cost estimates in addition to the recommendations. Results of the study will be discussed between the County, American Engineering Testing and KL Engineering in an upcoming conference call.

A proposed sand and gravel pit, encompassing 170 acres on County Road D, near County K in the Town of Packwaukee returned to the discussion table. Trebiatowski said the Town is looking for input from the County on the suitability of using the County D causeway for the trucks that would need to cross it on a daily basis, hauling sand, gravel and asphalt. They are thinking the company would be there long-term, and discussions on the question would look at the possibility of 50 years out. He said the county attorney would like an opinion from a consultant on the question. The discussion also noted there is an alternate site near County Roads F and D under consideration. The committee’s position was to wait until the Phase 2 final report on the causeway comes out before giving their input to the Town.

Trebiatowski summarized several recent road projects, including fog sealing done on County M, near the Brakebush Brothers plant. He said he placed a person at every intersection during the work to instruct people how to proceed but still encountered problems when people drove over the oil. He followed up on six complaints about people driving through, asking them to write an account of what they saw. He said most reported they didn’t see people at the intersections, but assured the committee, “I know for a face we had people at every intersection.”

Trebiatowski also reported on 3 requests for speed reductions, along with his findings. The one that a study showed was warranted was to reduce speed to 45 mph on County Road F from XX to the Montello city limits. The other two were studied and based on the results of speed studies, he did not recommend changing. Those would have reduced speeds on County Road C from ZZ to the existing 25 mph zone and the other would have reduced speeds on County Road CH from Becker Road to the Waushara County line. 

Some upcoming projects listed came from the Parks & Rural Planning Committee. Highway Department will assist with a walking trail in the new Mont L’eau Park in Montello and a bump-out parking area on Lower Locks Road at the Grand River locks area. They are also anticipating work needed at the fairgrounds in Westfield but are awaiting work on a master plan that the County will be doing for that property to know what that will entail.