Controversial road project in Wausau moves forward - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Controversial road project in Wausau moves forward

WAUSAU (WAOW) -- The Finance and Economic Development Committees took the next step toward approving a plan for redeveloping Thomas Street. Council members say it's a way to get the project going, but some residents say they're not happy to see the project take the next step. 

"What's happening is not in the best interests of the people," said Wausau resident Terry Kilian. 

Kilian lives on Thomas Street, a street that's been the center of controversy for several years. 

"It has caused a tremendous amount of emotional anguish, I'm trying to be objective about this but it's very wearing," said Kilian. 
The Wausau Finance and Economic Development Committees voted unanimously to accept a report from a Milwaukee consulting firm about the project. 

"No specific part of the consultants plan was approved, just the entire plan, so we can now set the direction to make decisions on which version of it to do, which property to buy, " said Wausau City Council member Romey Wagner. 

City leaders say their vote doesn't endorse the plan's specifics. In the plan, the consultants propose expanding Thomas Street to four lanes from 3rd Avenue to the river and two lanes from 3rd to 17th. 

"I feel the responsibility and I think most of us do that, lets get this done, lets give these people some closure," said Wagner. 

But residents are still disappointed, feeling the project will hurt their neighborhood. 

"I felt angry because there might be people who want their homes purchased but there are probably more people who are afraid to come to the city government and say this is what I want and it's because they feel it's fetal," said Kilian. 

"This was a need, this moves it forward," said Romey. 

The consultants report will now head to the full council for a vote.

The project has been in the works for several years.

In 2008, a five-lane plan was approved for Thomas Street, but the project hit a snag when the city found out it wouldn't receive federal funding. The Federal Highway Administration said the city didn't follow proper guidelines when obtaining homes along Thomas Street. That meant city leaders had to find alternate ways to fund the project.

The five-lane project was slated to cost $15 million. City Council member David Oberbeck says he is not sure how much the newly recommended plan would cost.

Without any federal funding, the project will be paid for through a tax increment financing district, Oberbeck.

Powered by Frankly