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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Town Of Peshtigo And DOT Discuss Country Meadows Rd.

Issue Date: September 5, 2019

The Town of Peshtigo Board held an information meeting with the Department of Transportation on Thursday, Aug. 29 to discuss and receive input from the community for alternative options at Country Meadows Road and US 41 intersection.

Matt Ternes Project Manger, Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) announced he and a team including, Ben Wilkinson, Professional Engineer (PE) Consultant Project Manager, Dan Segerstrom, Wisconsin DOT Project Supervisor and Mark Kantola, Wisconsin DOT Northeast Region Project Communications Manager were tasked with the priority of a safe traffic transportation system at the intersection of Country Meadows Road and US Highway 41.

Ternes said, "The three mile stretch between the Peshtigo bypass to Cleveland Ave is classified as principal arterial, which means high traffic area. There are various medians of 30, 60 and 0 and varying speed limits from 60 to 55, down to 45 and then 25 MPH. There is a lot of stuff within that three mile section and a lot of safety concerns along the corridor. There are 18,000 cars per day that pass through that stretch on Highway 41 and 1,500 vehicles per day that use the Country Meadows Road, Hwy. 41 intersection".

Ternes continued, "There is an extensive crash history at that intersection. From 2013 to present, there were 27 total crashes with 19 of them being angle crashes, which are the most severe with more chance of fatalities. Of those 19, 14 were injury crashes along with six of them involving train crashes and four others were railroad crashes. From 2008 to 2012, there were 12 crashes with 3 of the 12 also being with train crashes and in 2019 there were six crashes with five injuries and one crash with a train".

Town Chairman Herman Pottratz asked, "What about Roosevelt Road and Highway 41 intersection, how many crashes were there?" Teres responded, "I don't have it on hand but I can get that for you".

A safety study was requested in 2012 with extensive public involvement including five local meetings, four public involvement meetings and four business meetings. The study was competed in 2016 with four alternatives including: 1) Close the intersection completely 2) Right in right out option and close the median completely 3) Right in, right out, left in intersection option and 4) Traffic light controlled or the other option, which was not a suggested alternative, would be to do nothing and don't address the issue.

Of the four suggested alternatives 1) Closing intersection has been dismissed 2) right in, right out, close median would eliminate 80% of the crashes 3) right in, right out, left turn median intersection open, would eliminate 70% of the crashes, but vehicle can still get hit from the left and 4) signaling comes with the largest amount of work and highest price tag of close to four million dollars, with a lot of work to alter the location of the frontage road. This option may also backup traffic going into the City of Marinette.

The good news is, "Funds are available through the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) with 90% coming from the Federal Government and 10% from State funds. It is nice to be able to use that 90% of Federal funding".

Ternes said, "The preferred option would be right in - right out with closure of median. This option would only allow right turns from US Highway 41 onto Country Meadows Road and right turns from Country Meadows Road, north towards the City of Marinette which is the least cost. Pottratz said, "Don't forget we want some counts on County T - Highway 41 intersection and don't worry about the cost, I see how you guys spend money in Green Bay and I don't want you to even give that a thought. We want to have the best situation here and we are not worried about cost. It can be taken care of with the same organization".

Wilkinson said, "We don't have the authority to change the specs". Ternes added, "People drive at what they feel comfortable at. Some drive 45, some drive 25 and it is hard to judge when pulling out into the median when you have different vehicles going at different speeds and accidents will still be there and could be worse".

Pottratz said, "The major concern is speeding. We bought a speed control device and when that is being used, the vehicle speeds drop down, but there is then no one on the other end to give them a ticket".

Marinette County Sherif Department Lieutenant, Jason Ducane said, "I understand people are exceeding the speed limit between Roosevelt Road between County T/ Roosevelt Road and Flame Road. We do deploy officers out there and do speed enforcement which can help for a short time but a lot of the traffic is transient traffic just traveling through and never passing through again. It is our local residents that need to set the example with following the speed limits but are getting bypassed with people from out of the area".

State Representative John Nygren commented, "A possible remedy for this problem could be for the Town of Peshtigo to start their own police force". Pottratz responded, "We could start our own police force in the Town and possibly contract with the City of Marinette or City of Peshtigo". He also mentioned they could use the speed limit monitor. A member from the DOT said, that is separate from the project but we can check that out. Ducane replied, "It is speed and decision making. People are trying to gauge north and south bound traffic that then end up in the median and get smucked".

A possible improvement discussed was to install railroad crossing gates, but gates cannot be installed unless the median remains completely closed due to the close proximity of the tracks to Highway 41. This is not feasible with the median open.

Pottratz said, "The tracks do create a problem for in and out, but that area is in the City limits now so that is going to be developed and there is also the Hospital that uses that access in and out as well".

The safest recommended alternative is 2) Right in right out option and close the median completely. This option would significantly reduce crashes, it maintains most business accesses and reduces cost to 90% being all paid for.

Town of Peshtigo Fire Chief Mike Fologert commented, "We are always concerned about public safety and I am glad the DOT is addressing that area. This intersection is where we get the most calls at. Every time we go there for an accident, it messes up traffic. Something definitely has to be done there and I am glad to see this option".

Ternes asked Folgert, "If we close the median is that going to cause any issues for the fire department"? Folgert responded, "Most incidents are because of the median. We can adjust and go to other intersections. Personally, I myself avoid that intersection".

Pine Tree Mall Manager Joanne Konyn questioned, "How is this change going to affect the stoplights by the mall?" Ternes said, "There may be a few more lights added and might be an incremental increase but will have to work with the City of Marinette to replace the lights".

Konyn said, "There will be more truck traffic also with new businesses, K&K and the Hospital". Ternes replied, "We will look at the intersection to see what can be done".

Town of Peshtigo Clerk, Clarence Coble asked, "If you get rid of the left turn onto the Highway to go South, what will be the impact on Flame Road with it being 65 MPH there"? Ternes responded, "With Flame Road being a consistent speed of 65 MPH and not with varying speeds in the area of Country Meadows Road it will be a lot easier to judge traffic at Flame Road".

Pottratz asked, "Is there any study that addresses Old Peshtigo Road? There are a lot of trucks that create issues, cars don't typically cause damage, it's trucks that cause the damage. There is more property by the hospital for expansion, other property to work with and the area between Flame Road and City of Marinette that will continue to grow. You may want to consider stop lights by Flame Road to break up and slow down the traffic." Ternes responded, "We may have to transition to 55 MPH but the speed limit has to come from the municipality we cannot change that".

The DOT did a study of the selected alternatives on a Friday and Saturday of that area and results showed 62% entered from Old Peshtigo Road, 25% turned left onto Country Meadows Road coming from the North, 8% turned in but on frontage road and only 4% exited southbound turning to the left onto Highway 41.

Marinette Mayor Steve Genisot said, "Alternate two is the most logical choice, but is there a reason why they can't get this done in 2020 instead of 2021"? Ternes replied, "We talked about 2020 but the process to get done in the next year is tough. If we can get through the public involvement section in a timely manner, there is a chance we can get this completed in 2020. The project will only take approximately 30 days. It is all the other processes that take more time".

In concluding, a DOT representative said, "There are a lot of other implications that go with this. Signals do not eliminate the issues. DOT requirements must be met and and just installing signals would not meet those requirements. We have looked at a lot of things and we do not take anything lightly. The DOT suggested option will take care of 80% of the crashes and the businesses should see that there is more safety with this option".


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