BY NAOMI KOWLES
For the Star Journal
The Rhinelander Public Works Committee got a look at a drawing of the proposed roundabout for the US 8 and WIS 47 intersection slated for construction next year, at the committee meeting Monday. Public works director Tim Kingman pointed out there were a number of other “little” things he wanted to see incorporated, such as bicycle and pedestrian walkway access.
It’s a “process of going through the design with them and pointing out our needs,” Kingman said. “This project has been conducted by the state DOT office. We are participants, but at a level where we can express whether we like something or not, but we’re not responsible for it.”
According to the DOT project letter, the roundabout is more cost-effective than a signalized intersection, and is also the preferred solution due to improved safety “by reducing conflict points and crash severity” and slowing traffic approaching the intersection. Roundabouts are a new traffic option for some in the Northwoods.
“There’s a lot of people who don’t like it; they aren’t used to them,” Alderman Mark Pelletier noted. “People will get used to it; nobody likes change.”
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation will hold public informational sessions this summer regarding traffic diversion for the roundabout construction.
A public meeting was held in December where representatives of the DOT and Ayres Associates engineers discussed improvements planned for the intersection. In addition to deteriorating pavement at the intersection, the representatives on hand noted safety is also an issue, with 39 crashes reported there between 2012 and 2016. The DOT has estimated the cost of a single-lane roundabout would be about $1 million less than a signalized intersection, which was also considered.
The roundabout at the 8-47 intersection will be constructed in 2019. The project will include pavement replacement and raising the grade of the intersection for improved drainage. They anticipate the project beginning in spring 2019 and taking about eight months to complete.