Highway 22 shoulders set to expand, wide enough for Amish buggy drivers

A wheel of a horse-drawn Amish buggy.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Wi. (WMTV) -- Highway 22 shoulders are set to expand in Columbia County, wide enough for Amish buggy drivers to ride safely.

According to Michael Bie, a spokesperson for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the final plans for the Highway 22 resurfacing project will include 6-foot shoulders. He said the project will be between the WIS 16 interchange and the Columbia-Marquette County line in Marcellon. Bie added that this design is to “accommodate Amish buggy traffic.”

Tom Borgkvist is the Columbia County board district 3 supervisor. He said that there are about 40 Amish families in the towns of Marcellon and Fort Winnebago.

“Right now there’s about a 2-feet black top shoulder and 3 feet of gravel,” Borgkvist said. ”(The buggies) are in the gravel half the time. The horse’s wheels are out in the driving lane.”

The initial design by the DOT included a shoulder expansion to 5 feet. But Borgkvist was one of the area residents who expressed concern on behalf of Amish families, that 5 feet would not be wide enough. From wheel to wheel, horse-drawn buggies are over 5 feet.

Borgkvist said he had been fighting for shoulder expansion since last February. Safety has been a concern particularly because children drive them to and from school. He said the youngest buggy drivers are 11 years old.

Sunday morning, a buggy was involved in a hit-and-run crash that injured the buggy driver and killed the horse.

Hearing news of the final design, Borgkvist said that he was very pleased. He added, though, that it was important that the project goes through Pardeeville.

“They travel that road quite often,” he said. Many Amish families, including children, go to the Pardeeville grocery store and pharmacy.

Construction in Columbia County is set for June to September 2020, according to the DOT. The project for the 6-feet shoulder expansion in Marquette County is scheduled for 2021.

This comes just days after an Amish buggy-driver was injured and his horse killed in a hit-and-run crash in Lafayette County.