Residents support North Cape roadwork, but balk at sidewalk, loss of trees

Common Council calls on planners to keep looking for options

Many homes on South North Cape Road are surrounded by trees. Plans to reconstruct the road threaten some of those trees.

Many homes on South North Cape Road are surrounded by trees. Plans to reconstruct the road threaten some of those trees.

Jan. 28, 2014

Franklin — While residents on South North Cape Road would like to see their roadway repaired, many do not want to sacrifice trees in the process.

About a dozen North Cape Road neighbors appeared before the Common Council last week to comment on the designs for the street that were up for consideration.

North Cape, a two-mile Milwaukee County roadway, has been in need of repair for nearly a decade, Mayor Tom Taylor said.

"We've been after the reconstruction of that road ... to fix it up before someone got killed," he said. "That was the prime reason for advocating that the road be fixed."

While the residents present agreed the road needs improvement, they opposed the two proposed reconstruction designs.

Possible alternatives

The first alternative was fashioned as the standard Milwaukee County design for a rural section that includes ditches.

"You would think that since it's a rural design, it'd be the best one for the road," Alderman Steve Taylor, also a Milwaukee County supervisor, said after the meeting. "But really, it's the most destructive. It would remove nearly twice as many trees as the other alternative. We didn't really discuss Alternative One at the Common Council meeting because it was just that bad."

The second alternative, an urban design, includes sidewalks with curb, gutter and a storm sewer; and although not as invasive as the first alternative, the design still calls for removal of trees.

The designs feature bike accommodations on both sides of the road as required by the state Department of Transportation.

"I left Milwaukee to come to a beautiful, rural area so I that wouldn't have to put up with sidewalk and cement," said North Cape Road resident Mildred Perry, who later called sidewalk "an unnecessary thing" for the road.

Perry was concerned about elderly residents who would be expected to shovel snow from sidewalks installed in front of their homes.

"The city of Franklin will have to bill a 94-year-old lady, Mrs. Perry, because she didn't get out to shovel her 50 feet of snow next year," Perry said. "And I'm opposed to that."

If the road repair is to be paid for with county money, some concessions may need to be made, Steve Taylor told the residents.

Sharing the cost

The city allocated $800,000 in the 2014 budget for its share of the reconstruction cost, but a revised estimate from the county shows the city's contribution would need to be closer to $1 million.

The county would contribute $2.2 million to the project, with the possible addition of about $600,000 in County Highway Improvement funding from the state.

"If you don't want the road done, there are roads all over the place in Milwaukee County that the money could go (to)," Steve Taylor said. "We can't just finance the whole project ourselves; we can't afford to do it.

"... The only way this road is going to get done is with this type of funding. With this type of funding, we have to follow, unfortunately, what the state is telling us (to do)."

Residents and some aldermen suggested thinking "outside the box" to come up with new solutions to address financing North Cape's reconstruction, including having the city purchase the road for itself.

"There's a lot of questions that need to be answered," resident Randy Dillig said. "And when the county is dangling a piece of cheese in front of us, it's nice to grab it, but let's fix the road and forget about the sidewalk."

Alderman Daniel Mayer echoed those sentiments.

"If I was sitting out there (in the audience), I'd think this whole thing was kind of disgusting," Mayer said, "because we're up here and have your best interests in mind and in heart ... (but) at times, it seems that we're making excuses for other government bodies.

"It's your property. You don't want the sidewalk, you want the road fixed — (and) that's what should be done. We need to find a way (to do that)."

Steve Taylor offered to speak with the County Board members about the project and to see if there was a price estimate for a full reconstruction of South North Cape Road without the added sidewalk and curb and gutter.

"I want to see this happen … because this is my district," Steve Taylor said. "We can (vote the alternatives down, but) then that road doesn't get done … and I don't know when it will because the city isn't going to take over a road in that condition."

Needing a decision

After discussing South North Cape Road reconstruction alternatives for almost 90 minutes, the council agreed further discussion was needed.

Tom Taylor emphasized a need to "get an answer back to Milwaukee County as quickly as possible or other municipalities are going to grab the money and that road (South North Cape) is going to stay in the condition it is."

On that note, the Common Council directed staff to work with county and state officials to look at possibilities for removing sidewalks from the plans and preserving trees.

Discussion will continue discussion about the project at the next meeting on Feb. 4.

Next Step

WHAT: discussion of South North Cape Road designs

WHO: Franklin Common Council

WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Feb. 4

WHERE: City Hall, 9229 W. Loomis Road


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