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1119, 11 May 21

Washington County Board to Vote on HWY W Extension

There are two very thoughtful letters to the editor in the Washington County Daily News today about the potential extension of Highway W in Hartford. This is part of a larger discussion that has been happening in Washington County and throughout the country for many years – the push-pull between urban and rural interests as areas become more populated.

In this case, I don’t understand the drivers behind the extension. There seems to be a lot of cost and disruption for a very marginal benefit. I’m familiar with the roads in the area and there are, as the letters suggest, much less expensive ways to address safety concerns. So who keeps pushing for this? Why? Is there a road builder behind the scenes planning to land this contract? It keeps coming back to life, so there must be a vested interest behind it that keeps pushing.

Without a stronger argument than we have seen, this extension doesn’t make any sense.

To the editor: Our names are David and Anne Wenninger. We own a farm that has been in our family since 1883. The Wenninger family has farmed this land for 138 years. Our farming is sustainable, meeting society’s present food and textile demands, without compromising the needs of future generations.


Now, for the third time (it was voted down — TWICE) the county wants to put a Highway W extension through the farm, citing safety concerns at highways 175 and S and highways 175 and 83. In 22 months, since February 2019, there were two accidents at highways 175 and S; three accidents at highways 175 and 83 and none at highways 175 and W.


We enthusiastically support improvements at all of these intersections! Improvements (estimated at $450,000) to highways S/83/175 intersections should be the first step, NOT a $2,600,000 project, which will destroy 11.4 acres of active farmland. It is estimated that travel time will be increased by a mere 20 to 30 seconds. It will generate additional traffic issues in Allenton, near the railroad tracks.


We recommend instead, that both highways S and 175 and highways 83 and 175 be fixed to improve line of sight and access. Suggestions from the public have ranged from putting a roundabout in place; using four-way stop signs; or installing rumble strips. The county has steadfastly refused to consider any alternatives.


County Executive Josh Schoemann has consistently proclaimed a commitment to agriculture in Washington County. In his State of the County speech on April 22, he said: “As part of my campaign for County Executive, one of my themes was ‘Thriving Rural Communities.’… ‘To me, achieving the dream of ‘Thriving Rural Communities’ requires gaining a thorough and more in-depth respect for the struggles of our people in agriculture … .”


Although the county is temporarily awash in federal funding, we do not need to spend monies on ill-advised, huge projects. Wednesday, May 12 at 6:00 p.m. will be a historic vote for the county executive and the supervisors. Is there a sincere commitment to agriculture in Washington County?


Many roads in Washington County need to be resurfaced and upgraded. Let’s fix what we have, re-evaluate in the future, and save agriculture in the bargain.


David and Anne Wenninger





Say no to Highway W extension — again

To the editor: On Wednesday, the County Board will be asked again to consider a proposal that Highway W be extended from Highway 175 to Highway 83 – a new road through farm fields. This proposal was proposed in January 2019 and February 2019. It was defeated both times.


The questions have not changed: Is it fiscally responsible to spend at least $2.1M on 0.55 miles of new road when other road repair projects have been postponed? Is it fiscally responsible to use funding for the upkeep of Highway 83 for a different project? Is this new road necessary? Two parallel roads exist within one mile.


What about worsening daily congestion and safety concerns in Allenton due to trains?


What about safety concerns for slow farm vehicles? What about the loss of 11.44 acres of farmland for road development?


The answers remain the same.


In 2019, the county claimed safety concerns at the highways 175 and S intersection for why the Highway W extension was needed. The county claims now that “crashes continue.” If this was true, why didn’t the county make the safety improvements that only cost $450,000? There was funding and taxpayer support for this in 2019. If safety was the issue, this less expensive change would fix the problem.


In 2018, the county claimed that the Highway W extension was to “increase mobility from Hartford.” The county has the same reasoning now three years later: “the current routing of traffic is not the most efficient travel route.” s faster traffic in and out of Hartford what this is really about? This sounds more like an alternative reliever route than a safety concern.


Please ask county supervisors to vote no again to the Highway W extension.


Elaine Gehring




1119, 11 May 2021


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