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Tuesday, May 17th, 2005 -- 11:40 AM

Saying it is the most important issue facing Neillsville in the coming years, Neillsville Mayor Diane Murphy ? and other interested parties ? met with a DOT official about the future of Highway 10 last week.

The state is in the process of upgrading Hwy 10 to four lanes from the eastern part of Wisconsin to Marshfield; the project should be complete by 2013. The problem for Neillsville is Hwy 10 will intersect with Hwy 13 ? which the DOT plans to make 4-lanes from Marshfield to Hwy 29.

Some fear that could turn the western stretch of Hwy 10 into a virtual ?ghost highway?.

"We're looking at longterm, 20 years, and short-term, 5 to 10 years, and what's possible in those timeframes," Murphy explained on the Mayor's Office program on Thursday.

The DOT has maintained traffic counts on that stretch of road don?t warrant an upgrade, but Murphy and others are undeterred.

"It's going to get political," Murphy says. "The numbers aren't there but we just have to move forward and work with everyone we can work with that will eventually help make this happen."

On top of meeting with DOT officials, the group has also been talking with Osseo and Fairchild town leaders, who?ve expressed their support for the effort. Murphy says more public meetings are forthcoming.

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