(Expected to be printed on June 25, 2008)
When I stepped outside this past Monday morning, it felt like early April, and yet the calendar was clear: it was June 16, the kickoff of the Military Road upgrade project. Dave Thaler, the project head (from Coleman Engineering of Ironwood, Michigan) pulled up the driveway and I slipped on a jacket I didn't think I'd have to wear again until October. As the representative of the Citizens to Preserve Military Road group, I was to walk the road with him and mark the trees that needed cutting.
Or so I thought. Down the road we joined with Fred Wisner, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) project manager, Dennis Mack, the CEDAR Corps project overseer, and engineer Todd Mulvey, also from Coleman Engineering.
"How many engineers do you usually have on a project the size?" I asked Dave.
"One," he replied.
"Then why so many on this project?" I inquired.
"Because of the trees."
The initial road plan called for the cutting down of over 2000 trees 12 inches in diameter and over; the revised plan had 250 trees slated to come down; and by the end of the day we had marked only 21. This was beyond anyone's wildest dreams--how could it be?
If I didn't see it with my own eyes, I wouldn't have thought it was possible. If it wasn't for the cleverness and depth of experience of these engineers, it would not have been possible. It was done with such tactics as moving the road over a bit to the right when there was a line of big trees on the left, and recognizing that a tree up on a bank poses no risk to vehicles, even though the blueprint shows it inside the cut line.
The engineers are doing an equally superb job regarding safety: the Seven Mile Creek Bridge, the Halverson Road intersection, the suicide curve near Four Mile Creek, and the dangerous slopes of other curves, are all being corrected. And a realistic speed limit will be posted, along with curve advisory signs.
On behalf of all Three Lakes residents and visitors, I want to commend the engineering team and everybody who supported this project for proving what Bob Steigerwalt, Chairman of Lincoln County's town of King, recently said: "Progress does not have to be the opposite of conservation. Progress is also figuring out how to maintain our heritage."