Wisconsin Department of Transportation officials and contractors working on the upcoming roundabout project answered questions from residents during an informational meeting Wednesday, May 29 at Rhinelander City Hall. The roundabout will replace the intersection of highways 8 and 47 on the cityís west side. At top: Andy Dana of Ayres Associates, far right, shows attendees a scale model of what the roundabout will look like when completed. The model, shown in the bottom photo, included vehicles to demonstrate how even large trucks will be able to easily navigate it.
6/1/2019 7:30:00 AM State officials hold final roundabout informational meeting Construction slated to start June 10
A major entryway into the city of Rhinelander is about to change dramatically as the intersection of highways 47 and 8 on the city's westside will be converted into a single-lane roundabout or traffic circle.
To prepare residents and motorists for the change, representatives from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) held an informational meeting Wednesday in the Common Council Chambers.
About 40 area residents attended the meeting and heard from WisDOT officials and representatives from the engineering and construction firms involved in the $2.5 million, state-funded project due to begin June 10.
During the first stage of the project, motorists will still be able to use the intersection as the slip lanes that will take traffic from Kemp Street to north Highway 47 and eastbound Highway 8 east to where traffic will be detoured onto Boyce Drive to enter the city, Bill Erickson of Musson Brothers explained.
"Couple weeks to take care of that," he said, adding that the project is scheduled to run into October.
Before traffic is detoured around the intersection and onto Boyce Drive, a temporary traffic signal will be installed where Kemp meets Boyce, added WisDOT project manager Dan Erva.
"We are maintaining access to all of the businesses on Kemp Street throughout the whole project," Erva said.
Other traffic impacts the project will cause include West Prospect Street being closed at Boyce Drive.
"Because of the extra volume of traffic (on Boyce), they'll have to go around the other way," Erva said, noting that this will keep people from using Bruns Drive as a shortcut way from Kemp to Boyce to avoid the temporary signals.
"So we will eliminate that shortcut of people trying to sneak through there," Erva said.
Traffic heading south on Highway 47 will be detoured onto Kemp Street through the slip lane constructed in the first phase. According to Erva, there will be one lane of traffic in each direction coming into and out of the slip lane. He added that this stretch of highway will have flagging operations because it narrows under the railroad bridge.
A member of the audience asked if any heavy traffic would be detoured along Air Park or North River roads during the project.
"We are not signing the detour that way," Erva replied. "What people do on their own is up to them. It's a public street, they can drive it however they want."
The official signed detour will be along Boyce Drive, as agreed upon by Oneida County and the city of Rhinelander, he explained.
"If people use the local streets to get around it, that's on their own," he added.
WisDOT's Jed Peters said the concern would be the big trucks using that unofficial detour.
"You don't want to put heavy trucks on a local street intermixing with residential traffic," Peters said. "So in using the streets that we're using, we're making sure the trucks can actually make the physical turning movements and keeping them on roads that are designed for them."
Andy Dayna of Ayers Associates, who designed the project for WisDOT, gave a quick overview of how to drive in a roundabout and answered questions about unusual situations people may encounter.
After reviewing a number of options, the DOT announced in February 2018 it had chosen a roundabout as the best option to repair the well-traveled intersection.
According to DOT officials, the roundabout is expected to:
Improve safety by reducing conflict points and crash severity.
Slow traffic approaching the location.
Improve the mobility and efficiency of the intersection by reducing traffic delays during peak travel hours.
Reduce maintenance costs associated with traffic signals.
In particular, the DOT has stressed the goal of slowing down traffic in the intersection to improve safety.
Between 2012 and 2016 there were 39 crashes, one involving a fatality, at that intersection, according to information supplied during a Dec. 12 DOT presentation on the intersection project. The most common type of collision at that location is what is referred to as a "T-bone," where one vehicle strikes another at a right angle.
The other concern is motorists using the free flow right-turn lanes who can't see oncoming traffic often rush into their intended lane of traffic and are forced to slam on their brakes or are either rear-ended or sideswiped.
Jamie Taylor may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Northwoods River News | Walker Communications, LLC 232 S. Courtney Street, Rhinelander, WI 54501 | Office (715) 365-6397 | Fax (715) 365-6361
Corporate billing office: The Lakeland Times / Lakeland Printing Inc. | P.O. Box 790, Minocqua, WI 54548 | (715) 356-5236 | Fax (715) 358-2121 Members of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, Wisconsin Community Papers, Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce, Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce