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Study finds no reason to change Wisconsin and Vine intersection

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news River Falls, 54022
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

Anyone who feared a roundabout going in at the intersection in front of Hudson High School can rest easy.

Monday night, a traffic engineer from Foth Instructure & Environment delivered the results of a study to the City Council saying the intersection works fine as it is -- and should for the foreseeable future.

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“Is there a definite problem out here? No,” Chris Saxby said of the intersection of Wisconsin and Vine streets and the main entrance to the school.

“There’s nothing now that says you need to do something,” he added.

The City Council ordered the traffic study of the intersection last December at the recommendation of Foth, its consulting engineering firm.

At that time, Foth engineer Karen Erickson pointed out that another engineering firm was at work on the design for the reconstruction of Wisconsin Street, which is scheduled to take place in 2015.

Erickson said a study was needed to find out what type of design would be best for the intersection. If a new design was needed, the work could be done at the same time as the Wisconsin Street project, she said, and the city wouldn’t have to rip up the intersection later.

The council approved spending up to $9,000 to study how the existing intersection works and do the preliminary design of a new intersection if needed.

Only the first part of the study was conducted, at about a third of the cost that was authorized.

Saxby noted that going into the study the city had received complaints about traffic backups at the intersection during peak morning and afternoon periods.

He explained to the council that congestion is a relative term. In the town of 1,000 that he grew up in, if six cars were backed up at a stop sign it was considered a serious problem. But in a city, longer queues of vehicles are tolerated.

Foth counted vehicles at the Vine and Wisconsin intersection on Dec. 13, 2013. Saxby said the level of service at the four-day stop rated a B on a scale of A through F.

Most traffic engineers don’t consider upgrading an intersection until it has a low C or a D for a grade, he said.

Saxby said that using computer modeling with an annual traffic-growth rate of 1 percent, the intersection still functions relatively well 20 years from now.

If the annual traffic growth is 2.5 percent, the intersection may need an upgrade in 10 years, he said.

Mayor Alan Burchill noted that it is uncertain whether high school will still be located there in a few years. If it isn’t, there might be less traffic through the intersection, he indicated.

Council members and the engineers talked about repainting the intersection lanes to easily improve the flow of traffic.

Council action

In other business, the council:

--Forwarded a petition to annex 18 acres into the city to the Plan Commission for review. Central Bank is asking for the annexation of the property south of Hanley Road and east of Hwy. 35. It currently is in the town of Troy.

The land is surrounded on three sides by property that is already in the city. Community Development Director Dennis Darnold reported in an issue sheet to the council that Central Bank intends to sell the two parcels to a prospective buyer, United Properties, which would develop them for industrial/business park use.

--Authorized reallocating $183,600 set aside for purchase of a single-axle dump truck for the Public Works Department in order to purchase a newer road grader for the department. Public Works Director Tom Zeuli said he came to realize how important it is to have a grader during a period this winter when the department’s 1991 Dresser grader was broken down. He said a grader is valuable for snow removal in the downtown and on cul-de-sacs.

--Authorized hiring a wastewater plant operator to replace Leroy Easanbock, who will retire on Feb. 25.

--Approved filling a vacant half-time municipal court clerk position.

--Approved a schedule of Grandview Park user fees for 2014 that is same as it was for 2013. The council also approved keeping sailboat mooring fees at $560 for the 2014 season, the same as they were last year.

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