Road project draws large crowd to public meeting
BY MIKE WARREN
PITTSVILLE — The future of a busy Wood County intersection drew dozens of people to a public hearing and open house in Pittsville last month.
About a hundred concerned citizens and business owners went to the Pittsville Community Center Nov. 30, to hear the latest proposals from DOT officials, and voice their opinions, regarding the future alignment of the intersection of WIS 73/80 and Wood County A on Pittsville’s north end. The work is part of a larger project – the resurfacing of Hwy. 80 from the intersection to Poplar Street near Hay Creek Pallet.
“The two options we presented (for the intersection) were a four-way stop and a roundabout,” said DOT Project Manager Mark Steidl. “We wanted to give the public an opportunity to provide us their comments, their preferences and to answer any questions they may have concerning the two options,” Steidl added. “We’re hearing a little (in favor) of both,” he said. “I would say overall maybe a little more support for the roundabout than the four-way stop, but there is support for both of them. So, it’s our job to consider those comments, as well as other factors that we consider in determining the appropriate intersection type at any given location,” Steidl added.
Several semi truck drivers voiced their opposition to roundabouts in general. One said they’d (truck drivers) prefer that everyone be required to stop, so they know for certain when it’s safe to proceed. Others, including DOT officials, said no intersection is 100 percent safe, no matter what traffic controls are in place.
According to DOT figures, four non-incapacitating injuries have occurred at that intersection in the past ten years. The data also show two possible injuries and eighteen incidents involving property damage.
An all-way stop configuration would include one lane in each direction with right-turn lanes and rumble strips on all approaches except for the Hwy. 80 approach from the south. A roundabout would feature single-lane approaches, sized to accommodate large trucks, curb and gutter and curved approaches to slow traffic, and street lights to provide visibility at night.
“We’ll take these comments back and we’ll sift through them,” Steidl said. The public comment period is open through Thursday, Dec. 15. “Once that comment period comes to a close, we’ll review them and try to get an assessment of what the overall opinion of the public is, and that will be considered among other factors, in determining which intersection to move forward with. We hope to do that sometime early next year.” Steidl said cost would be a factor as well. An all-way stop runs in the neighborhood of $2 million and a roundabout is approximately a half-million more. “Public input is just one factor that is considered,” Steidl said. “Obviously cost is another.”
Steidl added either option would be a good fit for the Pittsville intersection. “It probably will come down to cost, but also public comments. We want to ultimately design a project that meets the needs of everybody, both from a statewide perspective as well as the locals.”
The public can still go to the project website, review a handout and map of the work area and submit digital comments. The project website can be found at https://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/projects/by-region/nc/wis80pittsville/default.aspx.
Construction currently is scheduled to begin in 2025.