Janesville roundabout plan takes next step

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011
— A new roundabout will control traffic at a dangerous intersection on Janesville’s east side by this time next year, if the project gains final approval.

The city council approved a roundabout at Milwaukee Street and Wuthering Hills Drive in 2008. Monday, the city plan commission agreed to the acquisition of easements and land and forwarded the plan to the council.

The commission voted 5-2, with Doug Marklein and David Siker voting “no.”

Marklein, who lives in the area, said the one-lane circle appears to be crammed into limited space.

Marklein, who said he generally likes roundabouts, said traffic lights would have been a better option in this case.

The circle itself would be only 2 feet from the sidewalks, so snowplows could make clearing the walks a problem, Marklein said.

Marklein said after the meeting that the morning commute at that intersection can be bumper-to-bumper, and the slowdown caused by a roundabout would make it difficult for motorists to merge from nearby side streets.

“I hope it can handle the traffic. I hope it can handle the winters. Otherwise, it’s going to be a huge bottleneck,” he said.

The project would create the city’s third traffic circle but the first one in an area of heavy traffic, said Brad Schmidt, associate city planner.

The plan commission and city council approvals are needed so the city can get state and federal funding, Schmidt said.

The intersection now has stop signs for traffic on Wuthering Hills Drive. It has been the scene of numerous accidents in past years, Schmidt said. One of those accidents was a two-vehicle crash in September 2007 that killed a Janesville woman.

The city already has taken interim measures at the intersection, changing the four-lane Milwaukee Street to two lanes and adding turn and bicycle lanes. Speed-feedback signs also have been installed in both directions.

The plan commission’s action was only to decide whether the easements and land acquisition complied with city plans. The commission did not review the financial aspects.

The city is expected to pay $210,000 for the project, while the state/federal funding will be $395,000, Schmidt said.

Part of that money will pay for temporary construction easements and 790 square feet of property from the property owners at the four corners of the intersection, to accommodate the roundabout, according to a city memo.

Construction is expected to begin late next summer and be completed in fall 2012.

What’s next?

The Janesville City Council is expected to take up the acquisition of easements and property for the roundabout project when it meets at 7 p.m. Monday in Council Chambers at City Hall, 18 N. Jackson St.

If the council approves the plan, the next step would be land acquisition.

Last updated: 6:57 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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