Wilbur Drive road-block plan gains ground in New Berlin
Judge refuses to stop Wilbur Drive closure
New Berlin — The way appears to be clear for a controversial road closure.
With the awarding of a construction contract last week, the temporary road block on Wilbur Drive will become a permanent cul-de-sac. A last-minute effort by some neighborhood residents to derail the project proved unsuccessful after a judge dismissed a request for a preliminary injunction.
Mayor Dave Ament said construction could start as early as mid-October.
The closure is designed to help keep traffic from cutting through a residential neighborhood enroute to and from National Avenue. The closure, which will have a turnaround feature similar to a cul-de-sac, is meant to short-circuit traffic that has used Wilbur Drive between Sunnyslope Road and the New Berlin City Center as a way to avoid traffic lights and take a more direct route.
That shortcut had bothered residents along the Wilbur. They said all that traffic is a safety hazard in a residential neighborhood.
The Common Council last year approved a temporary barrier on Wilbur at Cottonwood Road. The permanent change in the road's design will stop westbound cars on Wilbur at Cottonwood. Drivers can still get into the City Center by turning around and going around the block, finally taking Cottonwood south back to Wilbur on the other side of the barrier and into the center.
The theory is that those seeking a shortcut will be discouraged by the more roundabout route.
But many residents living along Redwood Drive and the other streets around the block hated the temporary closure and fought it from becoming permanent. They feel it funnels more traffic onto their streets, causing safety hazards there.
Waukesha Circuit Court Judge Lee Dreyfus Jr. last week dismissed the residents' request for a preliminary injunction on the cul-de-sac project, seemingly ending their bid to stop the work.
Following that court decision, William Ray of Redwood Drive, who had filed for the injunction, said in a written statement that he was disappointed neighbors' views had not been made clear enough.
"I only regret that I was not more effective in representing the wishes of 147 of the 243 Glen Park households that signed their objections earlier this year to this specific closure and my neighbors on Redwood and Cottonwood that have seen our traffic increase two to three times, since the installation of the barricades," Ray wrote.
"It is becoming apparent that the average citizen can't fight New Berlin City Hall, regardless of the merit of the case ... at least, not without a lawyer," Ray added.
The council's vote to award the contract for the work wasn't unanimous. The vote was 5-2, with aldermen John Fillar and Dennis Horbinski voting against the deal.
"I think it's way too much money for a project this small," Fillar said. "It has limited benefits to just a few people and many people are left out of a solution to this problem of shortcuts."
Horbinski didn't offer an explanation last week, but in the past has opposed closure because he said the people in his district feel that roads belong to everyone.
Before his election as mayor, Ament pushed hard for closure as an alderman, saying the Wilbur Drive residents have suffered for 11 years with shopping center traffic that has no business driving through a residential street.
"It will be nice to get this and several other road projects done," the mayor said last week.
Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
- Ike girls tread wave of frustration over New Berlin pool decisions
- News & Notes: Dec. 9
- Police Report: Dec. 10
- New Berlin woman shows others how 'able' she is
- News & Notes: Dec. 2
- Police Report: Dec. 2
- An early look at election filings in New Berlin
- Memories descend upon WWII paratrooper in New Berlin
- Muskego School Board president won't seek re-election
- News & Notes: Nov. 28