The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) has proposed to construct Plover’s, and Portage County’s, first roundabout in 2015. The roundabout will be constructed at the Highway 54/Maple Drive intersection.
A public involvement meeting at Plover Village Hall was held on Wednesday, July 10, to discuss the DOT’s proposed reconstruction plan with the public and to provide more education about roundabouts.
Chris Saxby, the project manager from Foth Infrastructure & Environment (Foth I & E), discussed the overall project, saying, “The intersection’s existing conditions contribute to many crashes due to the curve of Highway 54 and the angle at which Maple Drive intersects with it.” Saxby also said speed, traffic volume and large truck volumes are contributing factors.
“From 2007 to 2011, the intersection has had 28 crashes, 27 of which were angle crashes, or vehicles pulling out in front of each other. Sixteen of the 28 crashes involved injury.”
The DOT collected and analyzed crash information about the intersection of Highway 54/Maple Drive, determining it was a great concern.
Other concerns to the department, beside the amount of traffic incidents, are the lack of traffic calming devices near the intersection and inadequate pedestrian amenities.
In addition, southbound traffic blocks the view of vehicles stopped on Maple Drive because the right-turn-only lane on Highway 54 ends in the intersection. The resulting confusion reinforces the likelihood of collisions.
The DOT proposed three possible solutions to reconstruct the intersection after a public meeting in December 2012, one of which was a single-lane roundabout. The village of Plover approved the roundabout design as the preferred alternative in April. A roundabout is the least expensive solution at an approximate construction cost of $900,000.
Tony Kemitz, traffic engineer of the DOT, administered the second presentation, which explained why roundabouts are used and selected.“The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety studied 24 single-lane roundabouts,” Kemitz said, “The single-lane roundabouts resulted in 40 percent less crashes, 75 percent less injury crashes and 90 percent less fatalities.”
The geometry of a roundabout forces speed reduction and eliminates high-speed crashes. Roundabouts also eliminate the possibility of angle crashes because vehicles are forced to only turn right. In a five-year period, 96 percent of crashes at Highway 54/Maple Drive were angle crashes, thus the DOT has determined the best method of reconstruction is to build a single-lane roundabout.
During the meeting, the DOT addressed truck drivers’ concerns about whether a roundabout was a practical solution due to the high density of truck traffic in the area. Kevin Garrighan, the project manager from the DOT, said, “The design was modified to accommodate overweight and oversized vehicles.”
Some modifications include a reduced curb height, a truck apron to allow rear wheels of a semi to traverse while turning and the enlargement of the roundabout to allow for semi-truck turning movements.
Other doubts were that a roundabout would cause trouble for snowplows and there wouldn’t be a space for bicycles. Garrigan said the city of Wisconsin Rapids, which has a roundabout, has not had any issues with snowplowing in the past. Also, the roundabout is designed to have enough space for bicycles, as the lane is 18 feet wide.
The roundabout will also improve pedestrian accommodations at the intersection and north to the County B intersection and, if constructed, is speculated to be able to handle traffic beyond 2040.
The DOT is currently working through the project development process and preparing the necessary reports needed to move forward with the final design plans.
A third public meeting date is tentatively scheduled for spring/summer 2014 to discuss final plans, construction schedule and to provide additional roundabout education.
Construction for the roundabout is currently scheduled to begin in 2015 but will be adjusted to accommodate harvest traffic. The DOT plans to close the intersection during construction, Highway 54 traffic will be detoured via Interstate 39 and County Trunk B. There will not be a posted detour for Maple Drive (local) traffic.
For more information regarding the project, contact Debra Webb-Franseen of DOT at 715-421-8026 or Chris Saxby of Foth I & E at 608-242-5942.