March 25, 2017
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NOW: 38°
HI 44 / LO 42

Fix It: All about roundabouts

Taking stock of the county’s growing list and offering tips


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BY BRIAN PASSINO
bpassino@kenoshanews.com


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Today’s problem:

Rita Hagen wrote, “It seems as though we get one or two new roundabouts each year, yet not a lot of education on how to use them. I have had cars stop dead in the middle of the roundabout, not sure what to do and had others come barreling into it without looking for cars already in it and yielding to them. A few weeks back, my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter were nearly hit by someone who came barreling into it without looking or yielding.”

Hagen wrote that the village of Pleasant Prairie had put information on roundabouts in its newsletter this month. Hagen said, “I thought it was great and wanted to share the information.” Some of that, courtesy of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, is listed below.

The county’s roundabouts

Pleasant Prairie:

* Highway C at Highway H.

* Highway 165 (104th Avenue) at Highway ML.

* Highway EZ (39th Avenue) at Highway ML.

* Highway EZ at Highway 165.

Bristol:

* Highway C at Highway MB.

Somers:

* Wood Road (30th Avenue) and Inner Loop Road (UW-Parkside entrance).

* Brumback Boulevard in front of Wal-Mart.

Kenosha:

* 26th Avenue and Lincoln Road.

Observations:

Fix It’s anecdotal experiences with roundabouts: It appears the operative method for a lot of drivers entering the ones in Pleasant Prairie (or anywhere else, for that matter) is to floor it on approach to the circle — the old put-the-foot-in-the-radiator routine, which sort of turns the experience into a NASCAR event with decorative shrubbery. But at least we're not in the Fox Valley area, where it seems like every other intersection along Highway 41 is a roundabout.

Today's total chaos theory:

Hey! Let's make the intersection of Roosevelt Road, 39th Avenue and 75th Street into one giant roundabout. Wheeee!

(A dive into our archives reveals this was considered in 2000 prior to settling on the current intersection configuration)

.

Fix It contacted John Steinbrink Jr., superintendent of public works for Pleasant Prairie, to ask if there were any more roundabouts in the works for Pleasant Prairie.

Pleasant Prairie responds:

“There is one scheduled for construction this summer at Bain Station (Road) and Highway H,” Steinbrink said. It will be a one-lane roundabout like the one at highways C and H.

Fix It also contacted Clement Abongwa, director of highways for Kenosha County.

County responds:

Abongwa said the proposed start date for the roundabout at Highway H and Bain Station Road is the first week in June. "This is dependent on work for the relocation of utilities" and right-of-way acquisition. A tentative completion date is in late September. The budget for the project would be just over $1 million. "That includes design, right-of-way acquisition and construction management. It could be less," Abongwa said. The county will be opening bids on Feb. 23.

Abongwa said with roundabouts, "You have different schools of thought depending on who you talk to." Abongwa said four-way stops and signal-controlled intersections can have accidents, like T-bone collisions, where "the severity is usually very high and sometimes leads to fatalities." With roundabouts, Abongwa said, the severity of accidents is lower, and as people get used to them, accidents decline and the flow of traffic is more efficient. "There is a definite advantage," Abongwa said.

Roundabout safety tips:

From the Wisconsin Department of Transportation at

http://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/safety/safety-eng/roundabouts/works.aspx

* Slow down.

* Watch for and obey traffic signs.

* Move into the correct lane the direction you want to travel as you approach the roundabout.

* Yield to pedestrians and bicyclists as you enter and exit the roundabout.

* Yield to all lanes of traffic on your left before entering.

* Keep your speed low and stay in your lane within the roundabout. Do not change lanes within the roundabout.

* Exit carefully to your destination. Use your right-turn signal, in front of the splitter island just prior to your exit, to indicate your intention to exit.

* Watch for large vehicles; 2015 Wisconsin Act 139 requires drivers at roundabouts to yield right-of-way to trucks and other large vehicles (and combinations of vehicles, such as trucks towing boats or RVs towing cars) measuring at least 40 feet long or 10 feet wide.

* Motorists are required to give space to larger vehicles when approaching and driving through roundabouts.

* Drivers are asked to remain mindful that all motorists approaching a roundabout must yield to any traffic already within a roundabout, as signed and per law.

* If two large vehicles approach a roundabout at the same time, the vehicle on the right must yield right-of-way to the vehicle on the left.

And there you have it:

There is additional information on the WisDOT page for bicyclists and pedestrians using roundabouts. WisDOT suggests that bicyclists ride toward the center of their lane while in a roundabout and don’t hug the curb. Fix It has ridden a bicycle in the traffic lane through the roundabout at highways C and H and is pretty sure he doesn’t want to repeat the experience.

Send your ideas our way

: If you have an idea for a future Fix It, please send a note to Fix It at fixit@kenoshanews.com or call Brian Passino at 656-6330, Ext. 3.


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