Jamie Taylor/river news
Workers began paving the center circle of the U.S. 8 and Wisconsin 47 roundabout Aug. 8. The roundabout is expected to be opened to traffic, in a limited capacity, during the week of Aug. 19.
8/13/2019 7:30:00 AM Rhinelander roundabout to open week of Aug. 19
Motorists will soon experience driving on the roundabout taking shape at the intersection of U.S. Highway 8 and State Highway 47 in Rhinelander.
During a brief informational meeting at Rhinelander City Hall Aug. 7, Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) officials announced that the roundabout that has been under construction for the past two months will soon be opened to traffic.
The informational meeting, which took place during a thunderstorm, drew only media representatives interested in the project's progress.
Dan Erva, WisDOT project manager, said the project is on schedule to meet the contractor's deadline of Oct. 18.
"Where we're at on the project is we've started the paving on highway 47 and we're working on the concrete in the roundabout and some of the lanes in the next week," Erva said. "The week of August 19, traffic will start using the center circle of the roundabout so there will be a shift in traffic pattern."
When that happens, Highway 8 eastbound traffic will be detoured through the roundabout down Kemp Street to Boyce Drive so that the approach to the bridge on the highway from the roundabout can be paved, which will involve raising the road surface approximately 2 feet to better match the road surface that was elevated as part of the project, Erva said.
"That detour will be in place for about a week-and-a-half and then we'll open it up again to traffic," Erva noted.
After that portion of the work is done, motorists will still notice plenty of construction activity around the roundabout.
"We do have a lot of work to do, removing the slip lanes, doing some other stuff there, for togging, doing the ditches there," Erva said. "So motorists will see some flagging operations still during that time."
Erva said the project was slightly ahead of schedule before a spate of rainy weather held up concrete and paving work on the project. He said the project has remained within the $2 million to $2.5 million budget.
"This project has been going pretty smooth," Erva noted. "We did a lot of investigation during the design phase."
So-called T-bone crashes in the intersection, including one that resulted in a fatality, and poor drainage under the intersection that kept breaking down the road surface led WisDOT to reconstruct the intersection.
"We put the breaker rock (large gravel) under there to try to get good drainage to get all that water to drain away," Erva explained.
Erva said a new network of 12-inch diameter pipe under the breaker rock will also aid the drainage around the intersection.
While the work on the roundabout and its approaches is being done under the auspices of WisDOT, which is also picking up the cost, the repaving of Kemp Street from the end of the state's work and the Wisconsin River bridge is the responsibility of Oneida County.
Erva said he has no information on that part of the project.
Attempts to reach county highway supervisor Bruce Stefonek for details on that aspect of the project have been unsuccessful.
Erva said some simple, common sense will help people adjust to the new intersection.
"Go slow, pay attention, be safe, stay off the cell phone, and obviously when approaching the roundabout, yield to traffic in the circle as you are coming into it," he said.
People who might be unsure about how to drive in a roundabout are invited to view a video on the project's website at https://projects.511wi.gov/us8wis47int/, he added.
Reporter Jamie Taylor may be reached via email at jamie@rivernews online.com.
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