Frazier: City of Milton will not sponsor proposed County Highway M interchange
MILTON—Developer Bill Watson was caught off guard by Milton Mayor Brett Frazier's announcement that the city would not sponsor the County M interchange and industrial park proposal.
Frazier announced Tuesday that the city council decided not to sponsor the project even with a cost recovery agreement.
The interchange and industrial park proposed at County M and Interstate 90/39 can't move forward without a local sponsor. State and federal transportation officials need Watson to secure a taxing authority to guarantee funding for the project before they approve the private development, Frazier said.
Watson has said he would pay for the interchange, but he asked the city of Milton to be the sponsor.
The interchange could cost between $6 million and $15 million, state officials told Watson.
“That's just too much exposure for our city and our taxpayers,” Frazier said.
The city would need more details about the proposed development before taking any specific action, Frazier said.
The city's response won't stop the project from moving forward, Watson said. With large projects like this, there are endless problems, he said.
“The way these things get built is with persistence,” Watson said. “If they don't want to be involved in this … we'll find another way to get this done.”
Watson did not indicate what the next step would be in moving the project forward.
Watson, his consultants and DOT officials are working on an interchange access justification report to justify a new access point. The report could provide Milton with a better understanding of the project. The justification would include the effect the project would have on the Interstate system and local traffic near development.
Jodi Trepasso, who lives on Kidder Road in Edgerton, is happy the city denied sponsorship.
“I hope it would send a clear message to the DOT and Watson that this is not a smart decision at this time,” Trepasso said.
Milton has a number of other projects on the east side on which the city has chosen to focus its efforts, Frazier said.
Watson's justification report team was holding monthly meetings, but all meetings have been canceled since May 22, including a meeting set to be held today.
The DOT canceled the meetings because Watson's team did not have anything new to share, DOT Project Supervisor Wayne Chase wrote in an email.
The justification report and National Environmental Policy Act fulfillment must be completed and approved by June 2016 for the project to coincide with the I-90/39 construction schedule, according to a letter sent to Watson by I-90/39 Project Chief John Vesperman.