Work begins at crossing along well-traveled route between Port, Grafton
After years of complaints, car accidents and one fatality, reconstruction work is under way to improve safety at the increasingly busy and somewhat confusing intersection of highways V and W in the Town of Grafton.
The $808,000 project started Monday and is expected to be completed in fall, Ozaukee County Highway Commission Jon Edgren said.
From 2000 to 2014, 48 accidents resulted in 46 injuries at the intersection, according to the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Department.
From 2009 to 2013, 27 accidents occurred there, including one fatality, Edgren said.
“The intersection has been accident prone,” he said.
On Oct. 5, 2012, 45-year-old Rex Borgenhagen of the Town of Grafton was driving his motorcycle north on Highway V when he was hit by a sport utility vehicle crossing on Highway W. Borgenhagen died from his injuries.
The Grafton Town Board approved a resolution in December 2013 calling for the county to fix design problems at the intersection. Grafton’s Village Board passed a similar resolution, and the county’s Public Works Committee in January 2014 approved an $17,965 contract with Gremmer and Associates, a Fond du Lac engineering firm, which did a study of the intersection and conceptual layout.
The county applied for a Wisconsin Department of Public Transportation grant in early 2014 for intersection upgrades.
For decades, Highway W resembled a rural road that served mostly local traffic. But urgency increased with booming development on the east side of Grafton like Costco, the Aurora Medical Center and several other retail and restaurant developments that brought larger traffic counts through the intersection.
One of the biggest problems with the intersection is a large unmarked break in the median. Highway V has two lanes going in each direction with a boulevard, crossed by two-lane Highway W, which includes a two-way stop. The design forces north and southbound vehicles turning from V onto W to cross each other in the median break, which is further congested with cars going straight.
Edgren said he has seen four cars in the intersection at one time and has heard reports of six or seven.
Reconstruction includes traffic signals on Highway V with designated turn lanes. Left-turn lanes will have flashing yellow arrows.
Graef, an engineering and design firm from Milwaukee, did the final intersection design and is doing the reconstruction.
Highway V is expected to have one lane open in each direction throughout the project, but Highway W may have short-term closures. Advance notice will be given, Edgren said.
Michels Corp. of Brownsville won the bid for the project. The state approved the upgrades as a Highway Safety Improvement Program project with the DOT covering 90% of the costs and the county 10%, meaning the county will pay $80,800.
Edgren suggests people be especially careful during construction.
“My only advice would be to remind drivers to stay focused through a construction zone to help keep the workers safe, and in accordance with a new law passed in the spring, stay off their phones as drivers can be fined for using cell phones in a construction zone,” he said.