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City to study redesign of high school intersection

The city of Hudson will spend up to $9,000 to study what kind of intersection should be in front of the high school at Vine and Wisconsin streets.

The City Council made the decision Dec. 2 after reviewing a proposal from Foth Infrastructure and Environment, the city’s consulting engineers.

The way the issue was presented on the meeting agenda produced some disagreement before the discussion started, however. The agenda said the council would consider a Foth engineering work proposal “on a roundabout at Wisconsin Street and Vine Street.”

“I would be opposed to a traffic circle at the entrance to the high school,” Council President Rich Vanselow said when the issue came up at the Finance Committee meeting that preceded the regular council meeting.

Vanselow said he would oppose the study if it was to plan for a roundabout at Vine and Wisconsin.

Civil engineer Karen Erickson of Foth said the proposal was improperly labeled.

The purpose, she said, is to determine the type of design that would be best for the intersection in advance of the planned 2015 reconstruction of Wisconsin Street.

Erickson said design work by another firm is currently under way on the Wisconsin Street project. She said the city should coordinate a redesign of the intersection with the Wisconsin Street design. That way, all of the construction can be done at one time, and the city can avoid ripping up the intersection a few years after the street is rebuilt.

Erickson said Foth would conduct manual traffic counts at peak morning and afternoon hours, analyze the data, and determine the existing traffic flow. The firm will then use computer models to analyze how different intersection designs might work, and recommend a design for the city to use.

The design could be for a signal-controlled intersection, a four-way stop or something else, she indicated.

The preliminary design of the intersection layout would cost another $6,000.

Finance Committee member Randy Morrissette II also said he wasn’t a fan of roundabouts.

But Mayor Alan Burchill reported that Minnetonka High School in the western Twin Cities metro has a roundabout at its entrance.

“I talked to one of the administrators about it. They can’t say enough good things about it,” Burchill said. “They said it helped speed traffic in and out.”

Finance Committee member Lori Bernard noted that it is uncertain whether the high school will remain at its current location.

Morrissette replied that some type of school will be there, necessitating the study.

“Something needs to be done at that intersection,” Burchill agreed. He said there are traffic backups at the intersection when school is in session, and no need to stop Vine Street traffic there during the summer.

In the City Council meeting that followed, Alderperson John Hoggatt said the second exit from the high school parking lot adds to the congestion.

“It looks very dysfunctional when you are sitting there watching,” he said. Hoggatt agreed that the Foth study was needed.

The motion to authorize the study was approved without opposition after Erickson assured Vanselow that the purpose wasn’t to design a roundabout.

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.

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