UPDATE: Committee Approves Plan to Widen Thomas St. to Four Lanes

By: Elizabeth Schilder Email
By: Elizabeth Schilder Email

After more than five years, a decision has been made about the future of Thomas Street in Wausau.The decision was made Thursday night by the Capital Improvements and Maintenance Committee, but not everyone was pleased with the decision.

The city learned it would not be getting federal funding for the project in August so it's held off on a Thomas Street decision until now.

There were essentially three proposals on the table Thursday night. The original four lane proposal, approved by the Common Council back in 2008, a paired back proposal to rebuild the existing two lane road, and a middle ground proposal for a three lane road.

Those in support of the four lane plan argued it would cost the city more in the long run to go with the more conservative two or three lane plans and say they're happy to finally give the people living along Thomas Street some answers.

"This decision has been such a long time coming and I can understand the anxiety from the residents along Thomas Street who feel like they've been waiting forever for some kind of closure and some type of direction. So I did not feel pressure tonight to make a decision just because we've taken such a long time to come to this moment," Alderwoman for the 7th City District Lisa Rasmussen told NewsChannel 7.

Not everyone agreed. Cindy Gwidt-Scheibe has lived near Thomas Street for 17 years. She says she thinks the committee made the decision too fast.

"We need to be given all of our options. We need to be shown all the costs, how it's going to affect our properties, what we're going to get out of it, what the city's going to get out of it, what the future's going to get out of it and we need to show that to everybody involved," Gwidt-Scheibe reacted to the decision.

Opponents of the four lane plan are also worried that a wider road will pose more safety problems for pedestrians by increasing traffic.

Even though the project is no longer eligible for federal funding, the committee says there are other road projects that are. They plan to apply for federal money for those projects and then shift what they save to Thomas Street. The next step is to begin acquiring land for the project. The committee anticipates construction will begin in 2015.

The federal government yanked funding after it said the city didn't follow proper guidelines in acquiring property for the expansion.

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