Deal covers plans for streetscaping in Franklin, Oak Creek

April 1, 2014

The cities of Oak Creek and Franklin have reached a cost-sharing agreement for South 27th Street streetscaping.

The agreement, detailed in a memorandum of understanding that the Oak Creek Common Council approved this week, asserts that the cities will equally split shared expenses such as gateway signage, landscaping, light poles, signals, multiuse trails and bike paths. Other costs will be split differently.

Franklin will front $3.5 million or 90 percent of costs related to burying underground utilities from the west side of 27th Street starting at College Avenue to Rawson Avenue and south from Rawson Avenue to Northwestern Mutual's Franklin campus. The project length is about two miles.

"Franklin feels it's important for the project that if we really want to beautify the area that those utilities be placed underground," said John Bennett, Franklin's engineer/director of public works. "I think both communities are very comfortable with this mutual agreement."

Oak Creek will contribute $800,000 or 10 percent of costs related to burying utilities underground. The city will pay its contribution with credit it received from the state, totaling $892,000. The state compensated Oak Creek for expanding Drexel Avenue into a four lanes three years ago.

"So the fiscal impact is zero," Oak Creek Mayor Steve Scaffidi said during Monday's Common Council meeting.

The city of Oak Creek hopes to transfer the remaining $92,000 from its credit to another project related to 27th Street construction.

The 27th Street Corridor is a six-mile area from College Avenue to South County Line Road. It also marks the boundary between Franklin and Oak Creek. The two cities created a development plan together in 2004 to attract future development to the corridor while helping existing businesses such as Northwestern Mutual and Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, according to the plan report.

While construction has been slow moving due to delays caused by the state, construction is expected to start next year once the design is finalized, said Doug Seymour, director of planning development for Oak Creek. It will begin in the area north of Drexel Avenue.

"We were under pressure by the Department of Transportation to get this (agreement) done because they're trying to finalize the project so it will be built next year," said Bennett.

Seymour added: "It took a while to get to this point because of the state's construction schedule, but now that it's here it's moving a little more quickly."

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