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Hope is on the way for Carmichael corridor

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A roadblock to smoother-flowing traffic on Carmichael Road between the north and south sides of I-94 appears to have been removed.

Early this month, Bryant Ficek, a traffic engineer for BRA & Associates, informed city officials that the city has the power to re-time the traffic signals at I-94 off- and on-ramps that are believed to be slowing traffic over the freeway.

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Ficek said that in conversations with Wisconsin Department of Transportation Traffic Engineer Greg Helgeson, he learned that an agreement the DOT and city signed when the traffic signals were installed in 1996 allows the city to set the timing as long as it complies with DOT standards.

Mayor Jack Breault and the City Council began complaining about Carmichael Road traffic flow last January and asked BRA & Associates, the city's counseling engineers, to look into ways of improving it.

BRA engineer Dennis Postler said WisDOT typically runs their own signal lights, and because of city staff changes, no one was aware of the maintenance agreement between the city and the department.

"Our traffic engineers and our company tracked it down. They've been doing more work with WisDOT and have made more contacts, and were able to track the right person down," Postler said.

He said the signals already are wired into the city's computer-controlled system and will be re-timed after the holidays, adding, "I would hope in January sometime."

Asked whether motorists would notice the change, Postler said, "Well, we certainly hope so... I'm not going to say you can expect to drive the entire length of Carmichael and hit a green light in succession every time, but there should be a noticeable improvement."

He said the Carmichael Road traffic signals at Coulee Road, Crest View Drive and Center Drive were adjusted earlier this year, and that traffic flow was reported to have improved after that tweaking.

Another effort to improve traffic flow at the Carmichael and Crest View intersection has been delayed until next spring.

City Street Superintendent/Engineer Jim Eulberg reports that it took longer than expected to learn what needed to be done to create the triple left-turn lanes. Then efforts to buy a used freeway-style sign structure to guide traffic into the appropriate lanes fell through.

By the time a supplier for a new sign pylon and mast was found, it was too late to lay the thermoplastic material that will be used to mark the turn lanes. The striping will be imprinted into the asphalt when the intersection is resurfaced next spring.

Eulberg said a more durable material is needed to mark the lanes because paint wears off under heavy traffic. With three left-turn lanes, it will be important to have them well-marked, he said.

"Everybody will tend to swing to the left as they start going through (the intersection). It winds up pinching the inside lane," Eulberg said. "So you need to keep the lanes (clearly marked).

The installation of traffic signals at Carmichael and Hanley roads is under way.

Randy Hanson can be reached at rhanson@rivertowns.net.

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Randy Hanson
Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.
(715) 426-1066
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