Officials broke ground May 8 on a long-awaited project to reconstruct 19.1 mi. of Wisconsin State Highway 23 from Fond du Lac to Plymouth.
WFRV-TV, Green Bay, reported that work was scheduled to begin May 13.
The project, which will expand the highway from two lanes to four between U.S. Route 151 in Fond du Lac County to County P Road in Sheboygan County, was first proposed 20 years ago.
Wisconsin DOT Secretary Craig Thompson, who took part in the groundbreaking, said the project has two primary goals, WFRV reported.
"The first and foremost is safety," Thompson said. "We've seen far too many injuries and far too many deaths on this stretch of road over the last decade to two decades. But the second is the economy ... There's over $2 billion of goods and products that go over this route, so this is going to be a game changer for the region."
The project will proceed in four phases and is scheduled for completion in 2022, the WDOT website states.
Phase 1, beginning May 8 and extending into 2020, will involve grading, structural improvements and construction from Division Road to County P Road in Sheboygan County.
Phase 2, scheduled for 2020 and 2021, will repeat the process from Seven Hills Road to Division Road in Fond du Lac County.
Phase 3, also scheduled for 2021 and 2022, will see improvements from U.S. 151 and to Seven Hills Road, and Phase 4, set for 2022, calls for the resurfacing of existing lanes from Seven Hills Road to County P Road.
Numerous intersections also will be improved during the project.
Sheboygan County Administrator Adam Payne told Fox 11 News, Green Bay, that the work will cost more than $150 million. When the road improvements were first proposed in 1999, the estimated price tag was $45 million, he said.
Work was previously scheduled to start in 2015, but it was stopped by a lawsuit centered on environmental issues, Fox 11 reported.
"There are always going to be some folks who have farmland or may lose their backyard because of a new road or an expansion such as this," Payne told Fox 11 News. "We have to look at the greater good, and this is a project that was long overdue and is so important to the vitality of our community."
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