Wisconsin bill could limit use of roundabouts

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 11/19/2015

An effort underway at the Wisconsin statehouse could throw a wrench into plans to construct roundabouts around the state.

The traffic pattern has grown in popularity in the state in recent years following the U.S. Department of Transportation backing their installation in order to slow traffic and reduce the frequency of severe wrecks.

In fact, a state DOT study found that roundabouts cut severe wrecks in Wisconsin by about one-third, but minor wrecks increased by about 12 percent.
A bill from Rep. David Craig, R-Vernon, would prohibit construction of roundabouts by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation unless local governments sign off on the projects.

Craig said his bill is a “commonsense measure” to allow local governments, which know their areas best, to make the final decision.

“They know local traffic flows, the concerns of people, business needs, and the types of traffic far better than the Department of Transportation bureaucrats in Madison,” Craig said in prepared remarks.

Truckers add that while the traffic pattern does save fuel, it can be very difficult for large vehicles to maneuver through affected intersections.

Supporters of roundabouts say that DOT engineers know best when it comes to constructing intersections. They add that Craig’s bill would lengthen an already lengthy process and add more costs to projects.

The bill, AB326, is in the Assembly Transportation Committee. The Senate version, SB242, is in the Senate Transportation and Veterans Affairs Committee.

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