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Thomas Street future not clear yet

by
Wausau city hall
Wausau city hall

WAUSAU, WI (WSAU) -  There’s no decision yet on the future of Wausau’s Thomas Street.

Chairperson and City Council President Lisa Rasmussen says members of the city’s Capital Improvements and Street Maintenance Committee heard engineering firm AECOM outline the costs and benefits of rebuilding Thomas Street as a two-lane street or as a four-lane street to accomodate the high expected volume of traffic on the east-west river crossing corridor.

Rasmussen says the committee put off making a choice until the next meeting so they may study the information further.

She says the committee doesn’t want the same problem Wausau had several years ago with Bridge Street, where only 16 years after it was rebuilt, they ended up buying houses and expanding to four lanes of traffic, before the road was wore out.  "When they look at roads, they try to look at them 25-30 years out, and when we look at development, we have to look at everything that's going to develop on South 17th Avenue, on Grand Avenue once it's redone, The Curling Center is done and going to be bringing tournaments" adding, "They may also have development along Thomas because they have that TIF district there now.”

She says if they’re going to serve expected development in the future, they have to be careful and not become captivated by the two-lane street’s 10-million dollar savings and under-build Thomas Street.

The two-lane rebuild would cost about 5-million dollars, and the four-lane rebuild would cost about 15-million dollars, with most of the difference because of real estate purchases.

Wausau recently lost eligibility for federal funding on the Thomas Street project after not following federal guidelines during property acquisition.

Rasmussen says AECOM had some good news for city leaders during their presentation. She says the loss of federal dollars for the project means engineering costs are going to be $136,000 less because local projects don’t need certain impact studies required by the federal government.

The next Wausau CISM meeting is February 14th.

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