Janesville29.1°

New traffic gates installed on Interstate ramps

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Catherine W. Idzerda
March 12, 2012
What's going on here? On many Interstate ramps, fence-like gates with red and white stripes are stored on racks next to the road. Motorists also have spotted railroad-crossing-style gates next to Interstate ramps.

The gates look as though they might be used to close the Interstate during snow emergencies, but that's not the case, said Ben Coopman, Rock County director of public works.


"Those are Class A barricades that the state Department of Transportation asked us to install," Coopman said.


"When we have a crash on the Interstate, we can deploy those."


The gates keep motorists away from accident scenes while police are investigating an accident or accident cleanup is taking place.


Motorists still could get on or off the Interstate; they would just need to do so at a different ramp.


When parts of the Interstate system undergo repair, the DOT sometimes decides to install the railroad-crossing-style gates as part of the project.


"Those gates seal things off a little more tightly," Coopman said.


Some motorists who think they know better than the Wisconsin State Patrol have been known to drive around the moveable barriers. Or maybe the challenge of finding the next ramp is just too much for them.


"Wisconsin has been grappling with the issue of closing the Interstate during the winter," Coopman said.


Often, keeping traffic moving on the Interstate is considered better than trying to divert onto equally snow-covered roads in cities and rural areas.


Coopman expects to see more of the railroad-crossing-style gates in the future, especially during the planned widening of Interstate 90/39.



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