Franklin road project stalled due to concerns over trees

FRANKLIN (WITI) -- The city of Franklin is at a crossroads as it decides the fate of some 300 trees. The trees could be removed as part of a project to rebuild two miles of S. North Cape Road, but neighbors have asked project leaders to find a way to spare the trees.

If you have taken a ride down S. North Cape Road, then you know it's kind of a roller coaster!

"It's the 'Six Flags' of Franklin," one driver said.

A rebuilding project a decade in the works has been stalled. If Franklin uses state money -- and some $600,000 is up for grabs. Plans would have to include extra room for pedestrians and bicycles -- an additional eight feet on each side that would literally cut through hundreds of trees.

"There are trees along a good part of the length of it, but state funding requires accommodations for pedestrians and bicycles," City Engineer John Bennett said.

Removing the trees is the sticking point for Franklin residents.

"It's a beautiful area, and we wouldn't want to see all those trees get cut down needlessly," Katy Taucher said.

Franklin's mayor agrees.

"If you put the sidewalk in, it's going to interfere with all the beautiful trees that line that road and of course we are extremely concerned and so are the people that live along that road," Mayor Tom Taylor said.

The city and Milwaukee County got together, and are now considering passing on the state money.

"It appears that the county is going to use the county money to repair the road, and therefore, the state money is not necessary," Mayor Taylor said.

This means officials are ditching the sidewalks and saving the trees.

The catch is, once the road is rebuilt, the city of Franklin would assume future costs of maintaining it.

Franklin's City Council will talk it over Tuesday night, February 4th -- though it seems at this point, all sides will have a favorable path forward -- but it wasn't easy getting there.

New estimates for the total cost of the project are coming, but Franklin's City Engineer is betting it's between $1 million and $1.5 million that is again, a cost Milwaukee County could pick up.

It really has turned into a story of how city and counties work together to accomplish capitol projects without relying on state money, and therefore, having more control over how it's actually done.

We'll know in the coming weeks if this new plan is finalized.