The long-delayed Highway 23 expansion project between Fond du Lac and Plymouth is getting back on track, with preparation of a fourth environmental impact statement underway.
Efforts to make improvements on the highway have been underway for several years, due to the high number of crashes that occur on the stretch of road. Lawmakers have argued a crash happens on the highway an average of every eight days, while there have been multiple fatal crashes on the busy roadway.
However, the work has been held up by a lawsuit filed by the 1,000 Friend of Wisconsin. The environmental group successfully argued in federal court that traffic forecasts used to justify the expansion were flawed, which halted federal support. The recently passed state budget included more than $19 million in state funding to help get the project moving again.
Hundreds of people turned out for a meeting Thursday night on the UW-Fond du Lac campus to hear about the future of the project. Fond du Lac County Board Supervisor Dean Will – a former sheriff’s captain who dealt with accidents on the highway – said he wants to see it done right. “If they’re going to do it, do it the right way,” he said.
State Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Markesan) is hopeful the work will not be held up by litigation this time around. “We worked hard to get some funding in the budget…so I’m real anxious to see what they’ve come up with.”
A public hearing on the document will be held next spring and it could be finalized by next summer.
Affiliate KFIZ contributed to this report.