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State breaks ground on bypass

Breaking ground CN-NL-WIS15-Groundbreak2-210527
State and local officials broke ground on the WIS 15 expansion Hortonville bypass project Thursday, May 20, 2021. From left, Colleen Harris, WisDOT Northeast Region Director, Dean Steingraber, Outagamie County Highway Commissioner, Bob Buchman, Chairman of the Outagamie County Highway Committee, Tom Nelson, Outagamie County Executive, Craig Thompson, WisDOT Secretary-Designee, Gov. Tony Evers, Jeanne Bellile, Hortonville Village President, Mark Herter, City of New London Mayor and Dennis Clegg, Town of Hortonia Chairman. John Faucher photo

Construction to begin on New London-Greenville highway

By John Faucher

Gov. Tony Evers joined state and local officials in Hortonia Thursday, May 20 for a groundbreaking ceremony marking the official start of a $136.4 million dollar State Highway 15 expansion project between New London and Greenville.

The long awaited on Hortonville bypass project has been 20 years in the making.

A corridor plan for the project was first completed in 2001.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation evaluated several corridor alternatives and selected the preferred corridor in June 2007.

The State Transportation Projects Commission enumerated the project in 2011.

The project was initially scheduled for construction in 2017 but was delayed due to budget constraints.

When the project was delayed, local leaders and community members stepped up pressure on their state legislators to get the project rolling.

On June 20, 2019, Gov. Evers traveled to the Village of Hortonville to announce the project would break ground in September 2021.

Safety concerns

Thousands of local commuters travel daily between New London, Hortonville and the Fox Cities area.

The average daily traffic through Hortonville was estimated at 13,200 vehicles, East of Hortonville the count was even higher at 18,700. Traffic west of Hortonville to New London was at 10,200.

Traffic crashes on State 15 between New London and Lily of the Valley Drive in Greenville are above the statewide average.

From 2016 to 2020 there were more than 270 crashes in the 11-mile stretch of road, resulting in more than 68 injuries and six fatalities.

“This project is about safety for growing communities in northeastern Wisconsin,” Evers said at the groundbreaking ceremony held outside the Hortonia Town Hall.

“We worked hard together to get this project back on track in 2019, and I am pleased that we are now running ahead of schedule.”

The 11-mile long project between US 45 in New London and Greenville will create roundabouts on either side of the village of Hortonville where the bypass meets existing WIS 15.

The first phase of construction, starting June 7, 2021, will grade for the new bypass.

“The growing traffic was simply too high to run through Hortonville,” WisDOT Secretary-designee Craig Thompson said. “Today we are breaking ground on a project that will make travel in northeastern Wisconsin easier and safer — and will increase the quality of life in Hortonville and surrounding communities.”

Traffic forecasts along the corridor called for a four-lane divided highway, and heavy regional traffic conflicts with local traffic through Hortonville. Studies show 75% of eastbound traffic and 52% of westbound traffic, have destinations beyond the village.

Hortonville Village President Jeanne Bellile said safety issues have been a major concern there for many years and she thanked everyone who worked hard to get the project started.

“The project that we have waited for so long to happen, is finally becoming a reality,” said Bellile.

New London Mayor Mark Heter said he commutes from New London to the Fox Valley for work and he has witnessed numerous accidents on the route.

“I am very happy to see all the hard work put into this project the past several years finally get started,” said Herter.

He noted as the State 15 project nears its completion in 2024, New London will be in the middle of its own major downtown reconstruction project.

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