Consultant’s proposal is a logical fix for crossing at Hwy. W, county official says
Ozaukee County officials who are working quickly to redesign an accident-plagued intersection between Port Washington and Grafton were to get their first look Thursday at a proposed solution — turning lanes designed to bring order to the confusing and sometimes chaotic crossing at highways V and W.
The preferred concept proposed by Gremmer & Associates, the Fond du Lac-based consulting engineering firm hired by the county to redesign the intersection, calls for slotted left-turn lanes on both the north and south-bound sides of Highway V to guide motorists turning onto W through the intersection.
The term “slotted” refers to a design in which the turning lane is separated from traffic lanes by a wedge-shaped island.
One of the problems with the current design is the wide, unmarked break in the median at the intersection. The design forces north and south-bound vehicles turning from V onto W to cross each other in the median break, which at times becomes further congested with Highway W vehicles going straight through the intersection.
“This is such a wide open area that people get really confused,” Ozaukee County Public Works Director Bob Dreblow said.
The proposed turning lanes would keep north and south-bound traffic turning onto W clear of each other.
And because the turning lanes would be constructed in what is now the Highway V median, they would effectively reduce the width of the intersection and give through traffic on Highway W a designated place to stop between the four lanes of traffic.
“I think this looks like a very good, sensible solution,” Dreblow said. “It’s very practical.”
The plan also calls for basic right-turn lanes on Highway V.
The proposal and other options will be reviewed by the Public Works Committee. Among the tweaks that may be considered, Dreblow said, is adding traffic signals at the intersection.
“I can see traffic signals being an option that is considered,” he said.
But options such as a roundabout, which would significantly increase the cost of the project and the time it would take to improve the intersection, are not among the recommended options, Dreblow said.
“You can pretty much add a year to the project if you’re going to build a roundabout because of the time it takes to acquire the additional right of way that is needed,” he said.
The turning lane proposal was the basis for a hazard-mitigation grant application the county submitted to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation last week. That program typically funds 90% of the cost of projects intended to eliminate dangerous highway conditions.
Concern about the design of the intersection, which is in the Town of Grafton, peaked late last year when five people were injured, some seriously, in a two-vehicle accident at the crossing.
Earlier this year, the Grafton Town Board passed a resolution calling for improvements to the intersection. The county responded by signing a $17,965 contract with Gremmer & Associates to redesign the crossing.
“Clearly we have to do something at this intersection,” Dreblow said last month. “There have been too many accidents there.”
According to Capt. Jeffrey Taylor of the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Department, there have been 48 accidents that resulted in 46 people injured and one fatality at the intersection since 2000.
Image information: AN OZAUKEE PRESS graphic superimposed over a Google Maps satellite photo is an approximate rendering of a design option intended to reduce accidents at the intersection of highways V and W in the Town of Grafton. The highlight of the design is two slotted left-turn lanes defined by islands.