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Public information meeting set for next phase of Thomas Street project

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WAUSAU — City leaders are poised to unveil updated plans for the second phase of the Thomas Street reconstruction plan, days after independent testing of the soil was completed.

Updated plans will be uploaded to the city’s website no later than the end of the day on Jan. 18 and a public meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 25 at Wausau City Hall, according to a news release. During the meeting, a presentation will highlight changes made to the previously discussed 30 percent design plan.

Representatives from MSA Professional Services will be onsite at the meeting to discuss acquisition and relocation of properties in the corridor under eminent domain law, according to the release.

Meanwhile, a group of residents remains committed to ensuring that the controversial project is performed safely. Independent testing of the soil along the corridor was completed this week to detect whether harmful dioxins still exist in the area after decades of manufacturing activity and cleanup.

Testing performed on Tuesday is 10 times more sensitive than the method used by the city’s consultants and is more likely to reveal the presence of dioxins, according to an attorney representing a neighborhood group.

Milwaukee attorney Ted Warpinksi, who represents the Citizens for an Environmentally Safe Thomas Street Neighborhood, said in memos to city officials that independent testing would use an alternate EPA method and will test the top foot of soil, rather than the soil’s subsurface.

Test results are expected within the next several weeks.

Along with concerns about the safety of the project, residents in the area continue to question whether the plan, which calls for the destruction of more than a dozen homes along the corridor, is necessary from a safety standpoint or is part of a larger redevelopment plan.

Residents have been sharply critical of the design itself, which initially called for a raised median and bike lanes on each side of the road. The 30 percent design largely mirrors that of the first phase of reconstruction, completed this fall. The 60 percent design plan is expected to features a number of changes, possibly including the addition of mountable medians along some stretches of the roadway.

All comments and input received at the meeting will be presented Feb. 8 to the city’s capital improvements and street maintenance committee and to the city council on Feb. 13.

Anyone not able to attend the meeting can visit the city’s engineering division at City Hall or call 715-261-6740 to schedule a time to meet with city staff.

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