Evan Touchett says it’s easy to wonder who’s got a vendetta against Verona.
While those are only his thoughts, the District 4 alder told the Press, it’s hard to not have that mindset when three major highways that lead out of Verona to the north and south have undergone significant construction projects or closed in the last year-and-a-half.
With yet one more project restricting access to and from Verona starting this week – County Hwy. M south of Verona (toward Fitchburg and Oregon) – Touchett said it’s frustrating.
“It sucks,” he said. “Verona’s always had construction, but never to this degree.”
The southern Hwy. M construction project was moved up by a week from its original schedule to Monday, Sept. 30, after the eastern leg of that project got ahead of schedule. The road will close to through traffic between Thousand Oaks Trail and Fish Hatchery Road, though businesses will continue to be accessible.
In the last week, three more closures in the Verona area have been announced for bridge and culvert replacements.
Most of the projects on the highways are controlled by the state Department of Transportation, Touchett, the chair of the city’s Public Works committee, noted. And many of those highway projects are being done by the same contractors, he added.
The one project not being controlled is the closure of Hwy. PD near Shady Oak Drive. The area will be closed for four weeks starting Oct. 14 for a bridge replacement being led by the Dane County Highway Department.
The closure of Fitchrona Road along the Town of Verona’s eastern border was announced this week, with the road set to be closed from Whalen Road to Hwy. M starting Monday, Oct. 7, for a culvert replacement.
That meant the city had little to no control over the scheduling of the projects, Touchett said.
To the northeast, an alternate route for travelers looking to avoid Verona Road construction was closed over the summer, and lanes have been closed along West Verona Avenue to prepare for increased traffic around the new Verona Area High School next fall.
Touchett said he wished the City of Fitchburg, which led the Nesbitt and Fitchrona intersection project, had given the City of Verona some advance notice about the closure of the roads for the creation of a roundabout, but he added that Verona residents only have to wait a few more weeks until they get some construction relief.
Within a few weeks, the Hwy. M project to the south will be done, as will the Nesbitt and Fitchrona roads intersection. The Hwy. M project north of Verona road is scheduled to be completed by Nov. 1, and all construction near the new high school is scheduled to be finished by May 2020.
The Verona Road project, which has been under construction for the past six years, will continue into 2020. However, the overpasses and underpasses at intersections north of McKee Road leading up to the Beltline are scheduled to open in November.