Roundabouts included in proposal for I-90/39 interchange at Racine Street
JANESVILLE Roundabouts are part of a plan to reconstruct the Racine Street interchange at Interstate 90/39 in 2013.
The work is being done in coordination with the planned Interstate expansion but is a standalone project spurred by safety concerns at the interchange, said Carl Weber, Janesville’s public works director.
The current design does not meet safety standards and does not allow motorists adequate time to merge into traffic.
Work will be completed during the 2013 construction season.
The estimated $13.8 million cost will be paid by the state. The city is expected to pay about $51,450, mostly for additional street lighting.
Weber, who calls the area the city’s prettiest entrance, told city council members at a recent meeting that staff put an emphasis on aesthetics—especially the landscaping inside the two roundabouts to be built at the upper ends of the ramps.
W.W. Grainger has agreed to sponsor the maintenance of the roundabout landscaping for five years, pledging contributions of $5,000 per year, Weber said.
Traffic will continue to flow through the area during construction, but Weber said it might be reduced to a single lane at times.
Planned improvements include:
-- Reconstruction of the interchange.
-- Reconstruction of Racine Street from Palmer Drive to Midland Road.
-- A new overpass just south of the existing structure.
-- Additional street lights.
-- Sidewalk and an extension of the existing multi-purpose trail.
Racine Street from Palmer Drive to Park Place Lane is under the jurisdiction of the city, while Park Place Lane to Midland Road, including the interchange, is the state’s responsibility.
The state will install streetlights in the interchange area east to Midland Road.
City staff suggested the city pay for lights from the interchange to Palmer Drive to replicate existing lighting. The council agreed.
The state will pay to replace traffic lights at Palmer Drive and Racine Street, but the city will pay extra to upgrade the signals to match the lights at Midland Road.
The cost to the city for both improvements will be no more than $51,450, Weber said.
Staff also asked the state to widen the standard sidewalk to be installed on the south side of Racine to a 10-foot multipurpose trail connecting to the existing trail and going east to the St. Mary’s Janesville Hospital entrance.
The city would have preferred trees in the planned median like those on Racine Street now, but the state would not allow trees because the speed limit is 45 mph. So the city requested the state plant groves of trees on the far sides of the sidewalk and trail.
The city will be responsible for maintaining the sidewalk and trail.
Weber said the area is a major gateway to Janesville and the route to such attractions as Palmer Park, Blackhawk Golf Course, Rotary Gardens, the Youth Sports Complex and downtown.
“As a newcomer to Janesville, Racine Street just jumped out to me as being the most beautiful entrance to the city,” Weber said, citing the park along one side and the golf course along the other.
Staff paid special attention to the roundabouts and asked the DOT to upgrade the landscaping. That could include low maintenance trees, junipers and ornamental grasses that the city must agree to maintain. The DOT typically cuts the grass inside roundabouts once a year, Weber said.
“Those areas tend to look pretty straggly,” he said.
He pointed to the roundabouts near Milton at Highway 59 and the planned Highway 26 bypass. They are “totally overgrown,” he said. “It’s not a very attractive entrance.
“What we’ve tried to do is get something that is going to have good appearance, that will look attractive to the public as they’re entering the community but will have minimal requirements and don’t require watering,” he said.
The money donated by W.W. Grainger will be used to hire additional seasonal park staff to help maintain the new landscaping.
“The city is very excited about this opportunity to partner with one of our major businesses in an effort to beautify this major entrance to our city and the east side business park,” Weber said.