Wall Street Project Facing Roadblocks

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Charles Collier
The Denmark News

DENMARK — Reconstruction of N. Wall St. may face setbacks and a one-year completion of the major project could be in jeopardy after Internet provider CenturyLink informed Village engineers that as much as seven months may be needed for the company to identify and relocate potentially impacted fiber optic lines.

“There’s got to be a better word than ‘frustrating’ for this,” Village President Gregg Mleziva said at Monday night’s Village Board meeting.

Last summer’s work on Pine St. found unreported fiber optic facilities after the pavement was torn up, forcing Village workers to reroute water and sewer utilities on the fly. CenturyLink was fined for the hang-up and, according to Denmark Director of Public Works Erika Sisel, was given advance notice of the Wall St. project before final plans were even complete to avoid the kinds of delays which now seem imminent.

“We walked out there with [CenturyLink] and told them the same thing that’s happening on Pine St. will be happening on N. Wall St., and that was back in July last year,” Sisel said of the evolving complication. “Then we also sent out locates through Diggers Hotline in December, and they went out and they located their facilities. But they have now said that wasn’t all of the facilities and they don’t know where all of their facilities are.”

When final design plans were completed in February, utilities were sent a draft and asked to respond to Village engineers with any conflicts. Sisel said that message garnered no replies. Engineers sent another draft, “with each utility highlighted in a different color,” Sisel said, “and then they got responses from everybody. But that’s when we found out about CenturyLink.”

Wisconsin Public Service has identified gas and electric lines and have been cooperating with engineering staff, according to Sisel.

It had been planned to coincide upgrades to Village sewer and water lines with the work of County crews—doing otherwise would mean tearing up new concrete and pavement, which would carry higher costs. The project is qualified for grant funding through the Rural Development office of the United States Dept. of Agriculture, but those funds are contingent upon completion of their respective projects.

In the most pessimistic of scenarios, that would not be until spring or early summer of 2019.

“Remember: we came out and told the public, ‘This is going to be start-to-finish in 2018. Businesses, that’s all you’re disrupted—one year.’ Working around the school and the fire department…we put everyone on notice: one year,” a heated Mleziva said. “It’s just ridiculous.”

Village officials met with Brown County Public Works staff Tuesday afternoon to sort through alternate avenues, but additional information was not available at press time. A special meeting is probable to be called in the near future to address the situation.

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