STAR JOURNAL REPORT
The Rhinelander City Council has scheduled a special meeting for Monday when it will consider whether to send a letter to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation in support of constructing a roundabout at the US 8 and WIS 47 intersection.
DOT project supervisor Michael Wendt and project manager Dan Erva were on hand at the council’s Jan. 8 meeting to discuss options on improvements planned for 2019 at the intersection, which could include a signalized intersection or a roundabout. The DOT also held a public information meeting on the project last month at City Hall and accepted comments on the options.
Wendt and Erva informed council members the DOT plans to make a decision at the end of this month as to its preferred option for improving the intersection. The DOT has estimated the cost of a single-lane roundabout would be about $1 million less – $2 million to $2.5 million, compared to $3 million to $3.6 million for the signalized intersection.
In addition to the deteriorating pavement at the intersection, the DOT has also noted safety is an issue with 39 crashes reported there between 2012 and 2016. The intersection also came up as an issue at Wednesday’s mayoral candidate forum when the only registered candidate in the race, Alderman Alex Young, said he “would lean towards the roundabout” being built there.
“The numbers that (the DOT) presented, at least, bear out that the roundabout is the least expensive option and probably the safer option,” Young said. “In the past, in different media accounts and things of that nature – studies that I’ve seen talked about – referenced the fact that although initially you might see an increased number of collisions at roundabouts, the severity of those collisions is much less, because they’re not T-bone type crashes.”
The DOT indicated it is anticipating work to begin on the US 8 and WIS 47 intersection in Rhinelander in the spring of 2019 and take approximately eight months to complete.
Also on Monday’s council special meeting agenda is consideration of a petition to vacate a portion of Cherokee Lane located between WIS 17 and North Chippewa Drive. Aspirus is seeking to vacate that section of the roadway to expand its existing clinic in the city.