Janesville48°

Elkhorn hears options for intersection

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Pedro Oliveira Jr.
September 30, 2009
— Elkhorn residents want Wisconsin Department of Transportation officials to fix what they see as a long-standing safety problem at the intersection of Highway 12 and County A.

And they want it fixed now.


That's what dozens of them said Tuesday as more than 100 residents attended a meeting with state DOT officials.


Residents said the intersection is unsafe because cars come by too fast and cause too much noise, and because visibility is limited due to a sharp curve near the intersection.


In turn, DOT officials presented residents with three options:


-- Adding traffic signals to the existing intersection at an estimated cost of $100,000-$200,000.


-- Adding traffic signals and moving Highway 12 east to decrease the sharp angle and improve visibility. Cost is estimated at $1.75 million.


-- Adding a roundabout and moving Highway 12 east to decrease the sharp angle and improve visibility down the road. A preliminary cost estimate of $1.5 million was offered.


DOT officials heavily pushed for the roundabout as the safest of three options despite the $1.5 million price tag.


Some residents were unsatisfied.


"It looks like a decision has already been made," attendee Tim Loftus said.


Sen. Neal Kedzie, R-Elkhorn, said he wasn't surprised at the degree of animosity toward the roundabout proposal because people tend to be hesitant to accept the unknown. He said differences have to be put aside to solve the problem.


"You can't go into this with the supposition that a decision has already been made," said Kedzie, who attended the meeting.


The most vocal residents seemed to agree with one thing: Something must be done, and soon.


"I'm all for a roundabout; I'm used to roundabouts," said Wolfgang Neuwirth, who drives through the intersection on his way to work. "But it's been a problem for a long time."


Some residents proposed alternative, interim and cheaper solutions to the problem, such as lowering speed limits. This, they said, could solve both the safety issue and the loud noise of trucks at night.


Bill Olivia, DOT project development supervisor, said while transportation officials have final say, all feedback will be taken into consideration.


"The alternatives to fix it, there are many," Olivia said. "Tonight we are talking about three and we're talking about the most likely ones to happen.


"We haven't decided on that yet, or what that should be."



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