Vacating part of Cherokee Drive approved for Aspirus expansion
STAR JOURNAL REPORT
The Rhinelander City Council has decided not to decide on the future layout for improving the US 8 and WIS 47 intersection.
At Monday’s special meeting, interim city administrator Keith Kost noted the issue was discussed, though no motion was made, when council members agreed it wasn’t the city’s role to recommend a preference for either a signalized intersection or a roundabout there.
Had the council recommended a roundabout, a letter on behalf of the city drafted by public works director Tim Kingman would have been sent to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. That letter noted “the roundabout design approach is estimated to complete the safest intersection design at a lowest overall cost when compared to a traditional signalized 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. DOT project supervisor Michael Wendt and project manager Dan Erva informed the council at its Jan. 8 meeting the DOT plans to make a decision at the end of this month as to its preferred option for improving the intersection.
The DOT held a public information meeting on the project last month at City Hall and accepted comments on the options. In addition to the deteriorating pavement at the intersection, the DOT has noted safety is an issue with 39 crashes reported there between 2012 and 2016.
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 special meeting agenda, the council approved a petition to vacate a portion of Cherokee Lane located between WIS 17 and North Chippewa Drive. Aspirus has sought to vacate that section of the roadway to expand its existing clinic in the city.
According to information provided to the city from Aspirus, the initial phase of the expansion would involve building an additional medical office building attached to the current building, making it possible for Aspirus to bring in a number of specialists with the additional space, which would expand to around 40,000 square feet.