US 12 (WIS 26-Whitewater) Corridor - Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Note - WisDOT has stopped all work on the study of a
future US 12 Bypass through the town of Koshkonong south of Fort
Atkinson. The final disposition of the study will be determined at a
future date by the Transportation Projects Commission.
(May 3, 2012)
A preferred alternative is the alternative that best addresses
specific transportation and safety needs for the traveling public
while having an acceptable level of environmental and social impacts.
A preferred alternative must also meet the study’s identified purpose
The purpose and need and the alternatives considered for US 12 in
the Fort Atkinson area are described in the project’s Draft
EIS (DEIS). Alternatives considered
included improving and adding capacity to the existing route,
bypassing the city or doing nothing at all.
Is there a preferred alternative for US 12 in the Fort Atkinson
WisDOT has determined that a southern bypass route is preferred,
however the exact alignment is still to be determined. The preferred
alternative will be selected after additional detailed study is
completed on the potential southern bypass routes.
The selection process is complex and involves many steps. The first
steps began with the Needs Assessment (NA) conducted back in 2001 and
continued through the alternatives analysis and completion of the DEIS
in late 2005.
Throughout this time, hundreds of public comments from
property owners, citizens, agencies and legislators were gathered and
considered. Multiple alignments were analyzed to determine their
impacts and ability to meet purpose and need.
information, engineering requirements and public and agency input,
WisDOT staff weighed the pros and cons of each alternative presented
in the EIS. They also considered whether there were any better
alternatives by conducting a “Value Engineering/Planning Study”.
The three step process described in the sidebar on the right was
selected as the best solution to the identified problems and needs.
Why was Alternative 7 dismissed from further
Analysis indicates that Alternative 7 would have greater impacts to
the natural and human environment than Alternative 7a. It was found
that Alternative 7 would require the acquisition of Koshkonong Town
Hall and would have greater impacts on residential land, woodlands,
and wetlands. Section 404 of the Code of Federal Regulations relating
to wetland impacts, states that the required permit to discharge
dredged or fill material cannot be issued if a less environmentally
damaging practicable alternative (such as Alternative 7a) exists.
This more southerly of the two bypass routes has a number of
advantages. There are fewer wetland and woodland impacts and fewer
residential relocations. The design is safer and access management
easier. It is expected to be less likely to stimulate unplanned
development and its associated secondary environmental impacts. This
is partly because Alternative 7a’s eastern interchange would be too
distant from the municipal services needed for significant
The analysis and supportive evidence for selection of this
alternative is contained in the Technical Memorandum on the Dismissal
of Alternative 7.
Based on studies and public and agency input, a southern bypass
route is a better choice than a through-city route or a route on Rock
The exact southern bypass alignment has not been decided
pending further studies and comparisons of the potential alignments.
WisDOT will continue to examine alignment adjustments that further
minimize impacts to natural resources and property while meeting all
engineering and safety standards.
As engineering plans are refined,
more impacts may be identified and further refinements made. After
detailed environmental studies are conducted, WisDOT will conduct a
final comparison of the overall impacts and benefits of the potential
southern bypass routes and identify a single, final corridor.
corridor will be the official Preferred Alternative. The environmental
review process will continue through 2008 and culminate with
completion of the FEIS.
If WisDOT does not plan to build a bypass now, why continue
In order to move forward with final design, the study must be
completed. If conditions in the area worsen such that construction is
warranted sooner than currently anticipated, the full study would need
to be completed at that time, which could delay construction by as
much as two additional years.
Completing the study now will allow WisDOT to map the lands needed
for the selected alternative. Mapping discourages development within
the future right of way, which in turn keeps the cost of right of way
down. Completing the study will also finalize recommendations for
relatively low-cost interim improvements to the existing roadway that
focus on operations and safety and maximize the facility’s service
Mapping is a statutory process WisDOT uses to protect and preserve
right of way for future transportation needs. After extensive
coordination with landowners and other stakeholders, a draft map is
This map consists of one or more sheets of drawings that
legally define and depict the location and amount of right of way
needed. The right of way is broken into parcels based on existing
A public hearing is held for all interested
persons to review and comment on the draft map. The map is then
finalized and recorded in the county in which it is located. The
mapped land remains in private ownership but a description of each
owner’s parcel is created and recorded so that all current and future
landowners are aware that the map exists.
Landowners within the mapped
areas are required to contact WisDOT at least 60 days prior to
construction of any structural improvements in the mapped areas.
The lands through which a southern bypass alignment would cross are
relatively undeveloped at this time. This makes it easier to avoid or
minimize impacts to homes, businesses, and sensitive habitat.
Maintaining the corridor in the same relatively undeveloped condition
until the bypass is needed is advantageous.
Future right of way
acquisition costs associated with buying future buildings and
improvements will likely be less. Likewise, the need to realign the
corridor to avoid future developments will be less likely. Often, such
realignments result in an increase in overall environmental impacts on
the replacement alignment.
For these reasons, WisDOT anticipates that
mapping will reduce overall costs associated with a bypass.
Mapping will also facilitate local land use and transportation
planning. A defined and mapped bypass corridor can be incorporated
into the long-range comprehensive plan updates currently underway in
Fort Atkinson and Koshkonong.
A fixed location will help guide their
future zoning and development choices in a way that enhances their
community goals and policies. Mapping by one or both of the affected
communities can further ensure that the future corridor is preserved
and managed as part of a comprehensive planning process.
After the environmental review process is complete, traffic and
safety assessments will be conducted periodically to help determine
when the final step – construction of a south bypass - is needed.
Before construction of a southern bypass, WisDOT and the FHWA will
reevaluate the Environmental Impact Statement and conduct additional
environmental review as required to account for any existing
conditions that change between now and then.
The exact timing of construction is difficult to predict. It will
depend on future traffic and safety along the existing US 12 route,
state funding priorities, and where this project is prioritized among
the state’s other highway projects.
Given the State’s existing
identified improvement needs, anticipated priorities, and findings of
this study, construction of a bypass would be unlikely until sometime
What can I do with my property after it is mapped?
After the right of way for the freeway is mapped, state law would
prohibit construction within the mapped right of way without the
property owner first giving WisDOT 60-day’s notice. “Construction”
includes erecting or moving in a structure, or rebuilding, making
alterations or additions to existing structures within the proposed
right of way.
If the property owner does give notice, WisDOT will
decide at that time whether it is necessary to acquire the property
before the proposed structure is built or wait until just before the
new road is built. If the property owner does not give this notice,
WisDOT will not be required to compensate the property owner for the
structure when right of way acquisition occurs.
Studies for major highway improvement projects typically require
extensive study of many issues and options and broad-based, thorough,
and frequent coordination and communication with local communities,
landowners and agencies such as DNR.
The completion time is very
closely tied to the number and complexity of alternatives and issues
analyzed. In this instance, both were higher than expected, so the
process is taking more time than WisDOT anticipated. Allowing
additional time in this project for further analysis and coordination
helps ensure that the preferred alternative is the best alternative
The environmental study process will be completed when the FEIS is
signed and a Record of Decision (ROD) is issued by FHWA. However,
final design and construction cannot occur until funding of the
selected preferred alternative is requested of and enumerated by the
Transportation Projects Commission (TPC).
WisDOT times such requests based on a variety of factors
including highway program priorities, changes to traffic patterns, and
safety. The TPC will then recommend projects that most deserve funding
to the Legislature and the Governor. Only then would WisDOT proceed
with final plans, real estate acquisition, and construction.