- It's been a tense relationship for a long time, and things were no different Tuesday night at a meeting between the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and Northwoods business and home owners.
Big changes along Highway 51 mean that some will go out of business and others will lose property.
But the stretch of road hasn't been updated since 1938, and the DOT said it's time to think about safety.
"There's still a lot of issues that need to be solved. Obviously we can't do everything everyone wants," said Forrest Van Asten, a civil engineer working on the project. "We have to balance the needs of the traveling public with the needs of the people who live in the local area, and at the end of the day, the main concern is safety for the traveling public."
Since the last Hazelhurst public meeting in December, the DOT made changes to their original design based on public feedback.
They kept access open to Mill Road, decreased the amount of right-of-way land they'll buy, and added a median for better access to businesses.
"They did listen a little bit to my concerns about that and with this new drawing that they have, they did give me access from Highway 51," said Joel Bayer, who owns a restaurant on Highway 51 in Hazelhurst. "I just hope they listen to people's concerns and complaints and are willing to work with them."
Others in the audience tonight questioned whether the DOT is really listening or just trying to appear that way.
"It was like, 'We'll listen to you, but in the end we're going to do what we'd like to do,'" said Carol Hahn, a Yawkey Lake property owner. "I hope that's not the case, but that was my impression and I think a lot of the people had that impression. That's why we had such a huge turnout today."
DOT engineers on this project said they're glad to take more input from citizens.
Construction on this part of Highway 51 starts in 2013 and will stretch through the next decade.
Twenty percent of the project is state-funded, the remaining 80 from the federal government.