Home and business owners revved up about potential hwy 29 change - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Home and business owners revved up about potential hwy 29 change

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HATLEY (WAOW)--Wisconsin Department of Transportation leaders met with home and business owners Tuesday night to discuss the implications of making one stretch of highway 29 into a freeway. The change, which would affect the highway from Hatley to Wittenberg, would remove direct access to 29 for many homes and businesses due to the need for frontage roads.

Jerry Bamke owns Fireworks Country and his store sits just off of 29 in Wittenberg. He said if the change happens, most of his business will be wiped out. "If I'm cut off from the road, over one third of my business is from Minnesota people just stopping in and using us as a pit stop."

The purpose of Tuesday night's meeting was to get testimony from residents about the DOT's proposed corridor preservation plan. Engineering Specialist Kelly Nicolaus said she and her team are listening to people who would be affected. "We will be taking all the comments, the public testimony into consideration before we do the final mapping."

She said one of the main reasons for the plan is to make hwy 29 safer. There are several areas on 29 between County Road Q and the hwy 45 junction where deadly accidents have occurred.

Bamke agreed that those areas need to be addressed, but he said he sees no reason why other stretches of 29 need to be messed with.

Nicolaus told people at the meeting that there is no set timetable for the project. Other residents voiced concerns that the freeway and necessary frontage roads would split their property in two, increase travel time to and from their home or business, and could wipe out their properties completely if completed.

Bamke said he just wants to know if and when the change will take place, so he can plan for the future of his business.

"I guess if they're going to do it, I wish they'd just do it and get it over with rather than just leave a guy hanging like they are," he said.

Online Reporter: Bonnie Shelton

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