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Freeway conversion means more changes lie ahead for Hwy. 35

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Another step in the evolving process for Hwy. 35 to become a freeway occurs next Thursday evening, Jan. 20, at the Troy Town Hall.

A public hearing will be held from 5:30-8:30 p.m. The hearing's focus is the mapping of future road connections between Radio Road by River Falls and Coulee Trail by Hudson.

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Those connections will be needed as various roads that access and exit from Hwy. 35 are closed. The closures will occur over time as the highway converts to freeway status.

Jeff Abboud, manager of the freeway conversion project for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation in Eau Claire, said next week's public hearing should be of interest to developers, city and town officials, along with people who live along the highway between River Falls and Hudson.

"There are a lot of residents who get directly onto Hwy. 35 from their homes, whether they are heading south to River Falls or north to Hudson and the Twin Cities," he said. "The maps we'll have will show some of the other connections they can use in the future after some roads to the highway are closed.

The public hearing is a time for people to ask questions and give testimony about the proposed road maps and environmental documents.

They can also ask about potential right-of-way issues from a DOT real-estate agent.

The hearing's epicenter is the Glover Road/Hwy. 35 intersection.

Abboud said the long-range plan calls for closing Glover's right-angle roads to the highway. In their place there will be a bridge and a half-interchange on the southwest and southeast sides of the intersection.

A full interchange is scheduled to be built at Radio Road in 2013. Radio's right-angle, direct access roads to the highway will be cut off.

Abboud said eliminating direct-access roads to Hwy. 35 will be gradual. He said closures would, in part, be determined by how fast the highway corridor adds new homes.

"If the development in St. Croix County picks up again, that could quicken the pace," he said. "Crashes are always a factor. When there a fewer gaps in traffic, that makes for delays and frustrations in getting on and off the highway, and that affects safety, which is a concern."

According to the DOT's future map, there will someday be a 1.7-mile north/south road running west of Hwy. 35 from Radio Road to Glover Road.

The public hearing will have maps with other more minor road changes and connections.

Abboud said the DOT has worked closely with town of Troy representative, including the Town Board and Plan Commission, on the freeway conversion and adjacent property issues.

Troy Town Board Chairman Ray Knapp said next Thursday's meeting should be informative and present long-range implications.

"I would say anyone who lives in or owns a larger block of land on the Hwy. 35 corridor, say about a mile on either side, but especially to the west, will find this interesting," Knapp said. "The mapping will show future rights of way and the impact of roads on properties, and maybe even how some of those properties will be split."

Knapp said the road mapping is the "right thing to do."

"Of course things can change and develop differently, but you need to have a plan in place," he said. "These maps give us the best estimate of potential road right-of-ways."

Knapp said he's been told work on the Glover Road half-interchange is 15-20 years away.

The DOT only wanted an overpass for Glover Road, but Knapp said the town pushed for a half-interchange because of residential feedback.

When it all happens, the DOT will pay for the bridge, while the town will pay for the half-interchange.

"That half-interchange was something people in Troy said they wanted because of the heavy commuting patterns toward the Twin Cities," he said.

After public testimony is compiled, the DOT road maps for the area will be made official later this winter. Troy will use them to plan for housing developments.

"I'd encourage people to come out, look over the maps, talk, ask questions, and make comments, either oral or written," Abboud said "That's what the hearing is about."

Abboud can be contacted in writing at Wisconsin Department of Transportation/Attn: Project Manager Jeff Abboud/718 West Clairemont Ave./Eau Claire, WI 54701.

Testimony about the Hwy. 35 mapping and environmental impacts can also be sent to him by email at jeffry.abboud@dot.wi.us.

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