Committe to decide future of highway department’s location
The Marathon County Infrastructure Committee needs to decide whether the highway department will stay at its West Street location in Wausau now that plans to move to the Witter family farm in the Village of Maine have gotten tangled up in zoning code issues, highway commissioner Jim Griesbach told supervisors on Thursday.
The commissioner said the Marathon County Parks, Forests and Recreation Department is currently working on a West Side Master Plan involving Marathon Park, Wausau, and needs to know whether the highway department will purchase an adjoining property for expansion or find a different property.
Griesbach said the county owns an 11 acre property at 1430 West Street that increasingly is subject to traffic congestion, especially after a Kwik Trip convenience store moved in across the street. He said there has been one accident between a county vehicle and a motorist.
Griesbach said his department ideally needs a 40-acre property, but could, perhaps, pick up another 11 acres by purchasing a cold storage building located east of its current location. He estimated the total cost of purchase and preparing the site, including building demolition, at nearly $4 million. Purchase price for the parcel is $1.8 million and demolition cost is $1.6 million It could take another half million dollars to clean up any hazardous materials on the property. Supervisors said they wanted to review a previous West Side Master Plan draft to better understand the situation. In other business:
_ Highway commissioner Griesbach said the county has enjoyed a mild winter and is saving money due to both less snow plowing but also spreading less salt. In addition, he said, the county has saved money spreading brine rather than salt. Griesbach said the county last year spread 5,700 tons of salt on the county highway and 8,500 tons on the state highway system. This year, the county spread only 3,700 tons on the county system and 5,200 tons on the state system.
Griesbach estimated the annual savings at around $500,000.
The commissioner said the price of salt continues to increase. This year’s per ton price is $90.84.
_ Commissioner Griesbach said Gov. Tony Evers’ proposed budget is generous to counties, proposing two years of increases in general transportation aids. He said the government has also proposed a 2.5 percent increase in mass transit aids and a $1.7 million increase in state highway rehabilitation.
Griesbach said Sen. Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon City), chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, told him not to expect both an increase in general transportation aids and an increase in the Local Road Improvement Program (LRIP).
_ Central Wisconsin Airport executive director Brian Grefe told committee members that airport runway projects funded by the Federal Aeronautics Administration (FAA) were being pursued this year and next year.
He said passenger ridership was down due to COVID-19 but slowly improving. He said CWA currently has between 140 and 200 passengers daily. A year ago, the airport had between 350 and 400 passengers.