County G access worries Blackhawk Technical College

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011
— Rock County is taking a close look at Blackhawk Technical College’s entrance on County G, also known as Prairie Road. The result could be changes at the intersection, maybe even a traffic light.

BTC officials asked the county for traffic lights after recent accidents, including a minivan being T-boned by a car Sept. 19.

Ben Coopman, county public works director, said the intersection where County G and the BTC parking lot meet is “a concern.”

“There’s a lot of things going on there, we believe, a lot of it related to traffic there on G and a lot related to the number of students there at the college, and both of them are going up,” Coopman said.

BTC has seen record enrollments in recent years.

Students and staff can find it difficult to turn onto County G because of oncoming traffic, and that leads to lines of cars in the lot, Coopman said.

The lines behind them could lead to drivers taking chances to get out of the lot, Coopman said.

The county is hiring a consultant to look at the issue, he said, but short-term fixes might help in the meantime.

Those fixes could include:

-- Lengthen and/or widen the southbound deceleration lane, which is both short and narrow.

-- Temporarily lower the speed limit, which now is 55 mph.

-- Add warning signs or a light that flashes certain times of the day.

-- Widen the bypass lane on the east side of G. That lane is narrow, and widening it could make it easier for northbound traffic to bypass northbound vehicles turning into BTC.

The consultant will count traffic at different times of the day to see whether a traffic-control device or a roundabout might be warranted, Coopman said.

The analysis could lead to the conclusion that nothing should be done, he said, or minor adjustments such as adding lanes could be recommended.

Coopman said the situation is complicated by the fact that the county is looking for federal aid to build a roundabout or install traffic lights at an intersection about two-thirds of a mile south, at County G and Townline Road. An engineer has already been selected for that project.

Four traffic accidents have occurred at the County G entrance since Jan. 1, said Cmdr. Troy Knudson of the Rock County Sheriff’s Office. People were injured in two of those accidents.

One of the injury accidents occurred at 11:25 a.m. Sept. 19, when a Lake Mills woman, 30, drove her minivan out from the lot to go north on G.

A southbound vehicle was turning right into BTC at the same time, but the woman might not have seen a southbound car behind the turning vehicle, one witness suggested to police.

The southbound car, driven by a 20-year-old Beloit woman, struck the turning van in the side. Both drivers were hospitalized.

Rock County maintains only one traffic signal. All the others in the county are on state or municipal roads, Coopman said. The lone county signal is south of BTC at County G and Inman Parkway.

Lights, poles and controls at the BTC entrance would cost between $60,000 and $70,000, Coopman estimated. Alterations to the road, including possibly a traffic island, and engineering fees could push costs close to $200,000, he said.

BTC President Tom Eckert told the BTC Board last week that the college does not have a concern about its other entrance on Highway 51, where the four-lane highway makes turning easier.

Last updated: 7:00 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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