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Road Engineering Journal
September 2, 1997
TranSafety, Inc.
(360) 683-6276
Fax: (360) 335-6402

Rotary Intersection a Winner
Circles Slow Speeders on Residential Streets
National Cooperative Highway Research Program Synthesizes Research on Changeable Message Signs (CMSs)
Survey Finds State DOTs Feel Biodiversity is a New Issue in Transportation Development Projects

Highway Safety Publications Catalog. Articles on Road Engineering, Road Maintenance & Management, and Injury Litigation. Information and consulting for the Automobile and Road User, as well as for law professionals in accident investigations.
TranSafety's free consumer journal for automobile and road users, three subscription journals on road maintenance, engineering, and injury litigation, and highway safety publications catalog. See our free consumer journal for automobile and road users, three subscription journals on road maintenance, engineering, and injury litigation, and a highway safety publications catalog.

Rotary Intersection a Winner

A new rotary intersection has won the hearts of Sheboygan's (Wisconsin) citizens along with recognition as Public Works Project of the Year for 1996 from the American Public Works Association. The oval-shaped rotary handles traffic from 8th Street, Indiana Avenue, and Water Street and accommodates a railroad track. The new intersection also helps beautify the entrance to a redeveloping harbor area.

"With plans to convert land in the old harbor to residential and commercial uses, we project significantly more traffic on Water Street which entered 8th Street about 150 feet north of the Indiana Avenue intersection," says Dave Biebel, Deputy Director for Public works in Sheboygan. "More traffic would backlog the intersection severely, and we couldn't solve the problem with signals." Traffic counts in 1994 were 16,200 ADT with an increase to 23,800 projected by 2015. That makes this a major intersection in a city with about 50,000 population.

The city, its engineering consultants, and adjoining businesses looked at many alternatives. They concluded that the modified rotary design would work best to accommodate the fifth leg of the intersection.

The rotary opened in September 1995. Traffic flows smoothly through the oval which is 240 by 140 feet. There are never less than two lanes on the circle, which, along with multi-lane entrance and exit ramps, expands capacity. Stop or Yield signs control vehicles entering all legs of the circle while traffic on the circle has the right of way.

Department of Public Works staff worked hard to involve and educate the adjacent property owners, members of a downtown business improvement district, and the general public. Speeches to civic groups, along with early and frequent news media contact, were important to encourage a positive attitude to the unusual design.

"During the time we were planning and building it, people were saying, 'It will never work,'" says Biebel. "Now it's installed and operating very effectively--more than even we in the department expected. Some drivers actually go out of their way to take a field trip onto it."

The project was recognized by the American Public Works Association for its esthetic appeal and innovative planning. The project had to meet stringent time deadlines relating to the opening of a newly constructed 8th Street bridge and also included a contaminated soils cleanup which required complex coordination among multiple consultants and state agencies.

"We would seriously consider doing another one," says Biebel. "It's a specialty design and there are very few places where it is warranted, but it is an effective solution where it is warranted."

(Reprinted with permission from the Spring 1997 "Crossroads," newsletter of the Transportation Information Center at the University of Wisconsin--Madison)

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