Muskego — A combination of high costs and public opposition appears to have killed plans for a roundabout on Racine Avenue near Muskego High School.
Construction of the roundabout would cost about $1 million - nearly double the $550,000 to $600,000 cost of installing better traffic signals and making other improvements at the intersection of Racine Avenue and Woods Road, said Michael Grulke, project manager for the Waukesha County Department of Public Works.
"And there was pretty stiff opposition at the information meeting" last week, Grulke said.
At that Aug. 4 meeting at City Hall, residents were shown two options for the intersection and asked to give their opinions on both. About three-quarters of the people there opposed the roundabout, Grulke estimated.
Despite the cost, every time the county does significant work on an intersection, the state Department of Transportation wants it to consider a roundabout, Grulke said.
"But in this case, it is probably falling apart," he said of the roundabout option. Funding for the project - regardless of which option is selected - already has been approved.
The county wants to make the intersection safer because the number of accidents has been increasing as traffic volumes have risen, Grulke said. Along with that, planners want to improve safety for high school students walking in the area, he said.
Both options have special provisions for pedestrians, he said. The new traffic signals would have push buttons for walk signals, while a roundabout would have crosswalks.
From school officials' point of view, either option would be an improvement, said Muskego-Norway Superintendent Joe Schroeder. But the district prefers the new signals, he said.
For one thing, the signalized intersection would be cheaper, he said. Also, the district would lose a sign and some land if a roundabout is constructed.
"It would knock down our sign," Schroeder said.
A business on the northeast corner of the intersection also might lose some property if a roundabout is built.
But perhaps the district's greatest concern is that having inexperienced drivers - high school students - navigate through a roundabout is probably not as safe as having them use a more traditional intersection with traffic signals, Schroeder said.
THE NEXT STEPS
What's next with plans to improve Racine Avenue and Woods Road intersection:
• Mid-September - Waukesha County will have decided whether to put in new traffic signals or a roundabout.
• October - A public information meeting will be held at which more details will be given about the selected option.
• Summer 2011 - Construction will be completed.
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