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WAUSAU (WAOW) -
Wausau city leaders are finally speaking
publicly about a construction project. This comes after months of silence on
the Thomas Street
expansion, which hit a snag with the federal government.
The Federal Highway Administration
says the city of Wausau
didn't follow proper guidelines when obtaining homes along Thomas Street.
That means the project could miss
out on millions of dollars in federal funding. But now, city leaders are saying
they did nothing wrong.
A project to expand Thomas Street has
been in the works for several years. But now, Wausau city leaders are clarifying where it
"The city has not bought any
property in 2012 and will hold off any other property acquisitions until a
meeting with the Federal Highway Administration," Wausau Mayor Jim Tipple said.
The city bought ten properties along
the road. But the FHWA says the city didn't follow proper guidelines, and is
ineligible for federal funding to help pay for the project. But city officials
say they didn't do anything wrong.
"It's our belief that this issue
will be resolved," Tipple said.
Tipple says he plans to meet with
federal officials soon. But for those who still own property along Thomas Street, they
want some answers.
Ken Schauer owns a business there
and right now, it's for sale. But he says uncertainty about the project has
made that difficult.
"It'd be good for everyone to know
what's going on. It's hard for any business along this corridor to really make
plans," Schauer told Newsline 9.
City leaders say they're look at all
their options, and plan to work with the FHWA.
"We may be able to show them that we
followed appropriate procedure and that we are still eligible for federal
funding," Wausau Public Works and Utilities Director Brad Marquardt said.
But the city also has to start
thinking about another plan.
"We need to consider alternative
fund sources. We need to consider an appeal, we need to consider design
alternatives if it comes to that," Wausau City Council President Lisa Rasmussen
Schauer just hopes a final decision
is made soon. City leaders say they hope to reach some type of resolution with
the federal government.
Just ten properties have been
purchased by the city so far. But many more need to be bought to make the Thomas Street
expansion a reality.
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