Firm Recommends Design Plan for Wausau's Thomas Street Expansion

About nine years after the project was first mentioned by the City of Wausau, the drafts for the Thomas Street expansion are in.

This conversation first started in 2004, and then an original design was presented in 2008.

Since then, the council pushed forward to hire GRAEF Engineering of Milwaukee firm.

On Monday night, people had a chance to ask questions to the firm and the council.

Some people were upset about losing their homes to the project, but others were just thankful for some progress.

Thomas Street resident Nicholas Weinke said he's used to busy traffic.

"As you can see it's a pain to get out of your driveway," Weinke said. "At times, it takes my fiance 30-40 minutes just to get out of her driveway because it's rush hour and she can't get anywhere."

Weinke also said he's tired of waiting for the Wausau City Council to move forward on the West Thomas Street expansion plans.

"It's on, it's off. It's on, it's off," Weinke said. "You never know what's going on. You feel like a yo yo out here."

Well, he'll know a little more now.

On Monday night, GRAEF Engineering of Milwaukee presented the drafts for the area to the Wausau City Council for $51,800.

"We've moved a step further," Mayor Jim Tipple said. "Even though we've been dragging our feet forever."

The firm presented three options.

The narrowest plan, which the firm recommends, would be 72 feet in some areas and 94 in others, impacting 57 properties.

The middle plan is 94 feet, four lanes the entire route from the Thomas Street bridge to 17th Ave., impacting 64 properties, according to Wausau City Planner Brad Lenz.

The third and original plan is 110 feet wide.

The business plan has Thomas Street home and business owners like Terry Kilian not convinced it's needed in the area.

"They're trying to make it sound personal," Kilian said. "But it's not personal."

Even if the plan seems unnecessary to some people, the need to move forward is necessary for Weinke.

"I've seen people try to sell their houses out here on Thomas Street, and they can't because no one wants to buy a house that might get tore down in a year or two," Weinke said.

Now the council is set to decide on a final plan.

"I'm hoping they get it done soon," Weinke said.

Mayor Tipple said he hopes the city council will choose a final plan in the next few months.

You also may recall the federal government withdrew its funding for the Thomas Street project in the past because the city didn't follow proper guidelines for acquiring property.

The city plans to apply for federal money for other projects and then shift what they save to Thomas Street.

Lenz said the city could begin acquiring properties once the plan goes through various committees and is voted as a final one. He also said construction may be an option in a few years.


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