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Waukesha County plans to spend $93 million on roads, buildings, parks

Sept. 03, 2014

By Don Behm of the Journal Sentinel

Sept. 03, 2014 0

Waukesha County would spend nearly $93.3 million in the next five years to improve roads, buildings and parks as part of a proposed 2015-'19 capital projects plan, county officials said.

Emphasis would be on repaving and reconstructing county highways with estimated spending of $39.4 million over five years, according to a capital plan recommended by County Executive Dan Vrakas and Director of Administration Norm Cummings.

The largest single project in the plan would be a $36.4million courthouse addition with construction scheduled in 2019 and 2020.

Under the plan, the oldest section of the county jail would be demolished as a first step in building a four-story addition for criminal courts.

Eight of 15 courtrooms would move to the new building.

The University of Wisconsin-Waukesha would receive $5.9 million in campus upgrades, including roof repairs and the replacement of aging heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems with more energy-efficient equipment, Vrakas said in a memo distributed to County Board supervisors. Campus buildings are owned by the county.

The County Board's Executive Committee will review the five-year capital plan at a meeting Monday. The full County Board will act on the five-year capital plan at a Sept. 23 meeting, Cummings said.

The plan is updated each year and projects scheduled next year will make up the county's 2015 capital budget.

"It is the philosophy of Waukesha County to maintain the county's existing infrastructure while also planning for growth and anticipating the future needs of our residents," Vrakas said in the memo.

The county makes a 20% down payment on each capital project and borrows remaining costs for no more than 10 years, Cummings said. County policy limits debt service payments to no more than 10% of annual operating costs.

The 2015-'19 capital plan estimates $3.3 million would be spent in 2015 to demolish the former human services buildings near the courthouse and construct a parking lot in their place, Cummings said.

A new building for human services and public health departments has opened for business there. The old buildings were part of a historic mud bath resort constructed in the early 1900s and used by the county since the 1970s, he said.

Among other major investments recommended in the plan, the county would spend $3.2 million over five years to expand its dispatch center and provide additional space for the emergency operations center.

"The expansion will provide the needed space for handling large-scale emergency events," Vrakas said.

Repaving roads

The proposed capital plan maintains the county's annual commitment of spending $3 million for repaving deteriorated road surfaces, according to Cummings.

In addition to repaving priorities, the plan also includes several major highway reconstruction projects.

One is the proposed expansion to four lanes of North Ave., or county Highway M, in the city of Brookfield at an estimated cost of $17 million. North Ave. would be widened between N. 124th St. and Pilgrim Road, or county Highway YY.

Traffic volume on portions of the corridor exceed 20,000 vehicles a day, Cummings said.

Project design begins in 2015 followed by land acquisition in 2016 and 2017. Construction is scheduled in 2018.

Federal highway aid will pay $10.3 million of project costs, Cummings said. The county's share will be $6.5million with the city and Village of Brookfield contributing a total of $200,000.

Twitter: twitter.com/conserve

Don Behm thumbnail
About Don Behm

Don Behm reports on Milwaukee County government, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, the environment and communities in southeastern Wisconsin. He has won reporting awards for investigations of Great Lakes water pollution, Milwaukee's cryptosporidiosis outbreak, and the deaths of three sewer construction workers in a Menomonee Valley methane explosion.

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