Villa Louis Road overhaul set for 2022

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Archaeological work done this summer in conjunction with Fourth Street, boat landing projects

By Correne Martin

The Prairie du Chien Common Council is planning for the complete reconstruction of Villa Louis Road on St. Feriole Island, from Blackhawk Avenue north 3,800 feet to the harbor. 

The majority of the roadwork was scheduled to happen in two years, in 2021. However, the common council and state have both approved postponing it to 2022, in an effort to “better absorb costs,” City Planner Garth Frable said, and because a couple of the city’s TIF districts will be retiring by then, allowing extra income. 

The city is working with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation on the $2.058 million Villa Louis Road Project. A grant was received a few years ago for $1.1 million to fund this significant undertaking since it is considered a main arterial onto St. Feriole Island. 

Oftentimes, city officials are asked why some roads receive precedence over others in the city when it comes to construction work.

According to Frable, the Surface Transportation Program Urban Grant of $1.1 million “is only for streets that carry certain kinds of vehicles and a certain amount of traffic. This street is a main route to the harbor and serves recreational areas. There’s relatively few streets in the city that would actually be eligible for this grant.”

The scope of work will include archeological and engineering work, entirely new water main replacement, stormwater management facilities, a 4-foot wider and thicker asphalt roadway, gravel shoulders, a 10-foot wide bike path the full length of the project, and decorative lighting to match existing island streetlights.

According to PFM Financial Advisors, the total costs of the road portion of the project, including the city’s 20 percent match of state funding, are $783,462. The water main portion of the project, equaling $534,850, will be funded with a state Safe Drinking Fund Loan issued at a level debt over 20 years. 

City Administrator Chad Abram said the archaeological and architectural history work required for the project will be done by Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center, likely this year in conjunction with the July-September 2019 Fourth Street and Villa Louis Boat Landing projects. He added that some of the engineering work will probably take place in the next year as well. An agreement with Vierbicher Associates has been adopted for the engineering. 

Frable further explained that the water main portion is expected to be bid out separately, so a more flexible time frame is possible. With this project, there’s a potential $220,000 cost included that would involve de-watering the area before excavation in order to lower the water table, which could otherwise cause problems. Though, flexibility in the allotted time for this part of the project could save the city that sizeable expenditure totally—if it can be timed when Mother Nature is cooperating.

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