Crowd hears proposal for Highway 45 project through Bristol — including a roundabout

A view of the Department of Transportation's concept for Highway C roundabout. (Click image for larger view)

A public informational meeting on proposed changes to Highway 45 through Bristol drew over 70 residents who had questions and opinions about the project.

But what topic stirred them up the most? The possibility of a roundabout being installed at the Highway 45/Highway C intersection.

The state Department of Transportation is examining how to rebuild Highway 45 from the state line north to just south of Highway 50. Brian Pleumer, of R.A. Smith and the project engineer, said actual work could begin as early as 2012 or as late as 2016.

The current proposal calls for:

  • Adding turn lanes and lanes to allow driving around turning cars where needed.
  • Reworking the Highway WG and Highway C intersections.
  • Grinding and repaving the road surface from Highway WG to 86th Street.
  • Rebuilding the road from 86th Street north.
  • Improving sight lines now obscured by hills. The most urgent one is at Highway AH and 45, looking north from AH.
  • Sidewalks on one side or both sides of Highway 45 in the “downtown” area are a possibility.

The plans presented at the meeting are just preliminary, Pleumer stressed. The purpose of tonight’s meeting was to gather reaction and see what the local public would like to see in the project.

“Nothing by any means is set in stone,” Pleumer said.

However, Pleumer said ultimately the state will design the project to its standards even if that is unpopular.

“I’m not going to put in something that is unsafe that the public wants,” Pleumer said.

But within the state’s standards, all options will be entertained. Pleumer pledged.

“We take in people’s comments,’ Pleumer said. “We listen to them.”

The crowd was relatively quiet until someone asked about a drawing on display that showed the Highway C intersection reconstructed as a roundabout.

Pleumer said that a one-lane roundabout is being considered for the intersection, adding that federal policy requires the analysis of a roundabout when a intersection is being considered for changes.

Stephan Hoffman, another staff member from R.A Smith, defended the safety record of roundabouts, saying they have produced 90 percent reductions in fatal accidents and 60 percent reduction in injury accidents where used.

But the crowd largely remained unconvinced, even defeating the idea of a roundabout with an impromptu voice vote on the proposal.

“I don’t see any point in putting in a roundabout there,” said village Trustee Carolyn Owens. “They are dangerous.”

Another concern for some was the closing of the road during the construction with a detour around Bristol’s core. Glen Nelson, owner of the Bristol 45 Diner, predicted grave consequences for his business — including layoffs — if the road is closed during his prime summer season.

“It’s a huge concern for me if that road is going to be closed,” Nelson said.

Pleumer said he would take comments made Tuesday as well as those delivered to his office and the DOT into consideration while working on the next phase of the design. He anticipated calling another special meeting with a more solid set of plans before the project moves to the next formal step..



  1. valentine says:

    loss of NORMAL access to a gas station…
    SLICING a yard at a home on soeast corner to a fraction of what currently exists…
    I think that MADISON should become the capital of ROUNDABOUTS, not southeast wisconsin….
    There is no doubt that a roundabout costs more money that a ‘regular’ intersection. If the state is short on funds, they should be conserving on grandiose plans that the citizens do not want.
    I am not sure that an engineering firm should be defending the WisDOT’s decisions on ‘promoting’ roundabouts.
    Their role in this is to design what WisDOT defines…
    not promote.. in my opinion, of course.

    Even with a stop light, travesing north on 45 in the dark, the intersection comes up FAST… surprisingly fast even at the speed limit.. and even when one knows the intesection is expected. I would be very concened about all of a sudden, a driver coming upon a oundabout… If LIGHTS are going to illuminate this intersection as a means to address this concern, then it sure will affect the homes on two of the corners.. and those homes to the east of the corner with DAYLIGHT! So much for their rural skies…. ! They purchased knowing that there was a stoplight interesection. I dont think they ever conceived that a roundabout, bigger and fatter in girth would infringe in their neighborhood… And this IS their neighborhood.

    County had to lay off 14 people that live in our area. WISdot is spending or considering spending money on this roundabout while at the same time other highway services are being cut and funds.. It was afterall, state which cut down on the median cutting, which our county guys and gals did for the state on state roads.. just like 45! I personally would rather our guys/gals be employed than a roundabout be built, which likely would not be built by LOCALS.
    all my pesonal opinion of course.

  2. Jeannie Koenig says:

    There is a reason that Europe is getting rid of Roundabouts, THEY ARE DANGEROUS! Residents of Bristol, do not let them put a Roundabout in your Village. I use the 45/C intersection every day on my way to work. If a Roundabout is installed, people will avoid it. Stand up for yourself and for common sense. NO ROUNDABOUT!

  3. Not sure says:

    I’m not sure why the previous reader stated Europe is getting rid of Roundabouts? Roundabouts work very well in Europe and have proven to be safe. In Europe Roundabouts have 2 and sometimes even 3 lanes to them and with the amount of traffic they have in Europe Roundabouts work much better than intersections. I’m fine with having one at Hwy 45 & C. I’m sure they will have traffic slow down as it approaches and it will work well. One thing I would like to see is the speed limit along the entire stretch of Hwy 45 reduced from the Stateline north to Hwy C.

  4. Meh says:

    I used to encounter a roundabout in a busy neighborhood in Illinois and I think it was quite scary. I am a very alert and aware driver but it was nervewracking trying to figure out when you could jump into traffic and then get out of the circle, and wondering if you were going to collide with someone. I don’t think this would work well in a rural area like this. Maybe if they put huge flashing ROUNDABOUT signs before the intersection, I don’t know…can everyone handle this type of thing out in the middle of the country? Many people can’t even handle four-way stops. Many people don’t pay attention coming up to the stop sign and either sit there going “Duhhhh” when they’re supposed to go, or going when it’s not their turn. How are these people going to figure out and handle a roundabout lol. I don’t see it being necessary, a traffic light timed correctly works just fine. I can see drunks or crazy drivers speeding through the roundabout, bumping into cars, etc.

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