Intersection safety upgrade is scheduled for next year

Roundabout to slow traffic at highways 33 and I
By 
CONNOR CARYNSKI
Ozaukee Press Staff

The intersection of highways 33 and I will have a roundabout installed during the 2022 construction season after multiple accidents have occured at the crossroads through the years.

Accidents at the intersection include a two-vehicle crash on Oct. 21, 2018, which resulted in a fatality; a car versus motorcycle crash on July 21, 2019, which resulted in a fatality; a two-vehicle crash on Oct. 9, 2020, which resulted in injuries; and two other fatal accidents.

In response to the accidents, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation began examining solutions to improve safety at the intersection.

After taking into account traffic counts, turning radiuses and best safety practices, DOT spokesman Michael Pyritz said the department has decided to install a roundabout in the intersection next summer.

“It’s just going to function much better for the trucks and vehicles that use the route and of course the motorcycles,” he said. “From a safety perspective it is going to be a nice improvement.”

Still finalizing plans now, Pyritz said he is not sure if roads will have to be closed and detours made or if the intersection can remain accessible throughout construction. He said the duration of the project will likely depend on whether access remains open or closed.

Pyritz said while accidents are a part of driving and cannot be entirely prevented, that the roundabout will cause drivers to reduce their speed when approaching the intersection and should decrease damage from any accidents that may occur.

“Whatever was at the heart of that (the accidents), the roundabout should be able to address and eliminate those types of situations,” he said.

Pyritz said land will have to be acquired to expand the right of way for the roundabout to be built but that the parcels may have already been purchased ahead of construction.

Officials anticipate the project will cost $2 million or more.

In 2020 the DOT installed several temporary safety improvements at the intersection including orange flags atop stop signs, painting chevrons on the roads and repainting right turn lanes to discourage motorists from using them to pass left-turning vehicles.

While unsure if additional accidents have occurred at the intersection since the safety improvements were installed, Pyritz said, he has not received any report of accidents since then.

“Hopefully that has bridged the gap,” he said.

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