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Sidewalks on Business 151: $2.75 million
B151 sidewalks for web

Recent development on East Business 151 in Platteville has led to requests for, and approvals and denials of, waivers from the city’s ordinance requiring sidewalks for new commercial construction.

The debate over waivers prompted a Platteville Common Council work session Aug. 25 on the subject of sidewalks where they do not now exist on Business 151.

Now, the Common Council has an estimate of how much it would cost to put sidewalks on one side of Business 151, from the restaurants on West Business 151 to the new retail development in the Commercial Drive/Progressive Parkway area.

According to a city estimate, building sidewalks along one side of the nearly three miles of Business 151 would cost about $2.75 million.

A variety of funding options is possible, including Tax Incremental Financing funding for two projects, possible state funding for one intersection, inclusion in the city’s Capital Improvement Plan, borrowing, and assessing property owners along Business 151.

The city staff proposal suggests sidewalks could be installed in five phases. Two priority locations would be the busiest intersection in Grant County, Business 151 and South Water Street (Wisconsin 80/81), and an intersection the state Department of Transportation reportedly considers dangerous, East Business 151 and East Mineral Street/East Side Road. Work on those intersections may be eligible for state DOT aid, though in Water Street’s case only if Water Street is reconstructed, which Director of Public Works Howard Crofoot is not in the DOT’s five-year plans.

What now is Business 151 is the third 151 route in the Platteville area since the Dickeyville-to-Dodgeville route was established in 1927. What then was U.S. 118 was extended along U.S. 18 from Dodgeville to Madison to meet the original Madison-to-Fond du Lac 151 routing. The road also was extended into Iowa to meet another U.S. highway in 1937, when the federal government proposed to remove U.S. highways entirely within one state from the U.S. highway system.

U.S. 151 was moved from Mineral Street, Main Street and Chestnut Street to become Platteville’s first bypass in 1952. Because the second 151 route was considered a rural road, no sidewalks or street lights were built along the route, Crofoot said.

The second version of 151 became Business 151 after the U.S. 151 bypass opened in 2005. That was three years before the city’s ordinance requiring sidewalks along commercial development frontage, unless waived by the Common Council.

Putting sidewalks on all four corners of the Business 151/Water Street intersection is estimated to cost $450,000, with most of the cost to redesign to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. A possible funding option for that project is Tax Incremental Financing District 7 since it’s closest to the downtown TIF 7 boundaries.

“Almost every time I’m at that intersection, I see people coming from where Ed’s Café was,” said District 3 Ald. Barb Daus. “It’s 10 at night, it’s morning. Milio’s moving there has really changed foot traffic.”

At-large Ald. Amy Seeboth-Wilson said the Water Street intersection, which she described as “scary,” was “such a priority, and with the {Rountree Branch] trail going it’s an even bigger priority.”

“Since this is the busiest intersection in Grant County, would this add to the congestion?” asked at-large Ald. Mike Denn.

“It takes people longer to cross an intersection than a car,” said Crofoot. “Just knowing that, you’re going to add to the time.”

West of Water Street to Staley Avenue, sidewalks would cost an estimated $500,000, including ditches, lighting and intersections. 

“I think you’re going to be seeing more pedestrian traffic along that area,” said at-large Ald. Tom Nall. “That’s going to improve the business atmosphere for those properties because they’ll be easier to get to.”

East of Water Street to Valley Road, sidewalks would cost an estimated $350,000. From Valley Road to East Mineral Street, sidewalks would cost an estimated $750,000. 

Carroll said the state Highway Safety Improvement Program could fund 80 percent of the work on the Business 151/East Mineral Street intersection if it was chosen for the program.

Crofoot said the East Mineral Street intersection is considered hazardous because there are not full-width lanes to act as turning lanes. 

From East Mineral Street to Commercial Drive, sidewalks would cost $700,000, with an additional $90,000 cost to ensure connectivity with the sidewalks in the Commercial Drive/Progressive Parkway area. The project east of Mineral Street could be funded through Tax Incremental Financing District 5.

Director of Community Development Joe Carroll said there is no requirement for sidewalk construction for single-family homes or duplexes, but owners of existing homes must replace the existing sidewalk if necessary. 

State law also allows municipalities to assess a property with a special assessment for sidewalk construction.

“Generally if you can prove that what you’re doing is improvement of that property, you can assess for it,” said Carroll.

Complicating matters is that not all property along Business 151 is within the city limits. The building that houses District 1 Ald. Barb Stockhausen’s business, H&R Block, at South Chestnut Street and West Business 151, as well as Rosemeyer Jones Chiropractic, Rosemeyer Group Wealth Management and A-1 Self Storage, at 662 and 686 E. Business 151, are in the Town of Platteville.

The discussion also focused on whether city staff should recommend granting sidewalk waivers. The council has the authority under city ordinances to grant waivers. The council granted waivers for Culver’s and Dunkin’ Donuts, near the Business 151/Water Street intersection, but denied waivers for Anytime Fitness, near the Water Street intersection, and McDonald’s and Sherwin–Williams on Progressive Parkway (see story, page 1).

“Staff should never recommend waiving sidewalks,” said Daus.

“As much as I would like to see the waiver stay in, I agree with everyone here that we have to be consistent,” said at-large Ald. Mike Denn, who previously has favored granting waivers for recent East Business 151 buildings. “If you have 1,000 people walking out there, then go for it. Twenty-five to 30 people? No. We don’t have the money to do that.”

Common Council president Eileen Nickels said the DOT should be asked for Highway Safety Improvement Program grants for the Water Street and East Mineral Street intersections.


“Then we can start talking to people on [Business 151] who are business owners [that] at some point a sidewalk is a necessity,” she said.