The busy intersection at state Highway 47 and U.S. 8 on Rhinelander's west side is going to be worked on in 2019, and the state would like to hear from you as to your preference.
Proposed is an upgrade from the current signaled intersection with merge ramps that would also require more pavement and moving of driveways. The alternative is a roundabout.
Andy Dana from Ayers and Associates says there's been 39 crashes and a fatality at the intersection. He says the pavement is in poor shape and work needs to be done. The signaled intersection like now would be about a million dollars more to do than a roundabout.
Designers said lowering speed is a big factor in having a roundabout instead of a traditional intersection. The county highway shops are at the intersection and a worker there often hears crashes...
"....and they're going, 'oh, I gotta beat the light'. Highway workers have been at risk in that area because people are in a hurry. They're not going to gain anything by the extra 30 seconds but whatever you build there you have to slow traffic down before it gets there...."
The average speed in the state's 383 roundabouts is around 20 mph, and lowers the risk of severe t-bone crashes at higher speeds. The roundabout would also eliminate the sweeping merge ramps on each side of the traditional intersection, as traffic would slow to merge into the direction they wish.
According to the presenters, large trucks would be able to get through the roundabout with a minimum of problems. The comment period on the project ends this month. The state will announce their preference in February, with study and design time through 2018. Construction would begin in the spring of 2019.
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