Tosa leaders at odds with DOT over Burleigh plans

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by Lane Kimble

WAUWATOSA -- Along Burleigh Street on Wauwatosa's northwest side, cars and trucks often fly by at freeway speeds.  That's why Wauwatosa's Linda Carlson worries every time she sends her children by bike to summer school.

"There's absolutely no good way for our kids to get from where we live to the schools," Carlson said.

Hearing the Department of Transportation might expand the intersection at Burleigh and US-45 to ten or eleven lanes makes her even more nervous.

"IF you start adding that much traffic and that many lanes to cross, it will become even more  difficult and, in my opinion, less safe," Carlson said.

The proposal is one of many phases in the Zoo Interchange project.  A DOT spokesman tells CBS-58 nothing is set in stone and it's open to discussion between Wauwatosa and the DOT, which controls the intersection just off the freeway.

The area developed as a heavy industrial space in the 1950s.  City leaders understand the area is still a busy side of town and smooth traffic flow is important.  But they want to make sure getting across the roads there safely doesn't require a car ride.

"We don't want to make this the one super highway," Eighth-District Alderman Craig Wilson said.

Wilson says the city's vision of a quieter, more pedestrian-friendly development might not line up with the DOT's plans for improving traffic congestion.

"It's designed to give access and make it easier, but at the same time kind of flies in the face of  bringing the scale back down," Wilson said.

Wauwatosa has jurisdiction of Burleigh between the freeway and Mayfair road, which means the city and DOT need to find common ground so the construction matches up.

"It would be nice for them to kind of walk over if they want to, rather than have to play Frogger and dodge across 12 lanes of traffic," Wilson said.

Alderman Wilson and other committee members will meet with the DOT during the coming weeks.  He expects they'll come to an agreement that they can present to the full city council in September.

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