City: Traffic main issue at hospital site

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011
— Janesville city staff is waiting for a study showing how a proposed hospital facility on the northeast side could affect traffic there.

Traffic was a major concern for neighbors when a Walmart and Sam's Club opened in the same area off Deerfield Drive in late 2006. Mercy Health System plans to build a clinic south of Walmart and northwest of Home Depot.

The traffic study done for the Walmart development assumed Mercy would build a 50,000 square-foot clinic. Mercy Health System plans now call for eventually building a 470,000 square-foot facility on the 23 acres it bought in 1999.

A neighborhood meeting is set for 6 p.m. Thursday at the Holiday Inn Express and Janesville Conference Center.

Gale Price of the community development department said the traffic study would not be ready for the meeting. The city is waiting for needed projections from the state Department of Transportation, he said.

Neighbors have not raised many concerns up to this point.

Price said traffic will be an issue, but he thinks a plan will be found that ultimately will work.

The first phase of Mercy's planned construction is a 23,000-square-foot emergency department and clinic, which would have a "pretty negligible" effect on traffic patterns, Price said.

"We need to know more about the impact of the traffic and the difference between 50,000 and 470,000," he said. "At what point does this end up (that) certain other improvements are needed?"

John Bieberitz of Traffic Analysis & Design in Cedarburg is working on the numbers, as he did with Walmart.

Price said he expects residents also will have questions about lights, noise, stormwater and tree removal.

Now, water stands in the stormwater drainage basin at Walmart, "just making a big, mosquito mess," Price said. Water was supposed to drain in 72 hours, but the drainage system was built in the wrong location.

"It doesn't drain right, and we got runoff from the farm field nearby," Price said.

Work is being done now to rebuild the basin, Price said.

Price said managing stormwater should not be a challenge at the Mercy site.

Plans show a stormwater pipe on the southern edge of the greenbelt, and Price said he has already told Mercy officials they cannot remove any trees.

Neighbors along Amhurst Road were surprised when trees shielding them from the Walmart development were removed for the stormwater drainage basin.

"We're not going to have a similar situation, I can guarantee you that," Price said.

Price said staff is happy with the lights proposed for the Mercy project. They are similar to those used at the Walmart and are directed down.

He also expects some question about the helicopter pad and ambulance noise.

Price said staff is working to help Mercy meet its December deadline. Stlll needed, though, are permits, design approval from the state and a public hearing. The property is zoned correctly, so Mercy only needs a conditional-use permit from the plan commission.

To meet the deadline would be "pretty impressive," he said.

"To be designed, reviewed, built, approved and constructed and open in five months—yeah, that's pretty big."

Mercy is looking at two shifts of construction a day, which Price said he's never seen since he started working here in 2001.

Last updated: 6:10 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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