WisDOT and Salem discuss Highways 83 and C roundabout again

The state's latest concept for a roundabout at Highways 83 and C.

The state’s latest concept for a roundabout at Highways 83 and C.

Salem Town Board members at a special meeting Tuesday again listened to Wisconsin Department of Transportation representatives talk about why the state wants to rebuild the Highway 83 and Highway C intersection as a roundabout.

There wasn’t a lot of new information shared, but state officials again made their case that the intersection has a safety problem based on crash data and that a roundabout is the safest and least costly way of addressing that problem.

The town board passed in November 2015 a resolution opposing the roundabout (Supevisor Dennis Faber voted against the resolution). But in February, Chairman Diann Tesar said she had a change of heart and the board invited the state back for another exchange of information.

The state’s position hasn’t changed at all: There are too many severe crashes at the intersection and the roundabout is the best alternative for helping that problem.

“I think there’s a significant risk at this intersection for a severe crash,” said Stacey Pierce, a traffic engineer for WisDOT.

According to data presented by WisDOT, there were 32 crashes at the intersection between 2010 and 2014. Some 31 percent of those crashes were classified involving an injury. There were no fatalities in that period. In 2013, the intersection ranked in the top 5 percent of most dangerous intersections in Wisconsin.

“There is an issue out here in the  DOT’s mind,” Kevin Kuhlow of Ayres Associates, a consultant to the state on the project.

The roundabout will cost about $2 million less than an improved traffic signal rebuild. Most of the cost will be covered by a federal grant, the rest coming from the state. Salem will not need to contribute to the cost.

The roundabout will fix alignment and visibility issues at the intersection, WisDOT officials said. By moving from a traffic signal controlled intersection to a roundabout the chance for high speed, t-bone, right angle crashes is virtually eliminated and conflict points reduced from 32 to 8.

“You put in a roundabout, these types of crashes are just not going to occur,” Kuhlow said. “People run lights, they make mistakes. With a roundabout the geometrics elminate these crashes.”

Board members were less unified than the state in their opinion of the roundabout as a solution or even the idea that the intersection is hazardous.

Tesar and Faber support the building of a roundabout at Highways C and 83.

“I feel myself it will make the intersection safer, and it’s paid for,” Faber said.

Supervisor Dan Campion said he opposes the roundabout, questioning if the state is presenting all of the available data.

“I’m against it,” Campion said. “I don’t think this is the right intersection for a roundabout … I’m struggling with getting this information and getting it, shall I say, piecemeal.”

Supervisor Mike Culat, who did not state a strong position Tuesday, asked how many of the crashes recorded at the intersection involved alcohol, adding that perhaps the problem was not the design of the intersection but intoxicated drivers.

Pierce said whether crashes involved DUIs is irrelevant to the state’s analysis.

“We still fix roads based on trends of drunk drivers,” Pierce said. “We don’t discount DUIs. It’s all part of a trend.”

Supervisor Ted Kmiec was not at the meeting.

Nguyen Ly, WisDOT project manager, concluded the meeting with a request that town officials reconsider their opposition.

“We hope you can see and understand there is a safety issue at this intersection and that is why we’re here,” Ly said. “If we don’t proceed with this project, this funding will go away. A safer roadway for the public is very important. Together I think we can achieve that goal.”

If the town does not reverse its formal opposition, the state has said the project will not be done. If the town changes its mind, the state would like to have another public information meeting in June to keep on a timeline that would have construction start in 2019.

After the meeting, Tesar said she anticipates the matter to be an agenda item for a future Town Board meeting so the current consensus of the board can be gauged.



  1. West of 45 Citizen says:

    Ban Roundabouts. People are getting tired of this non-sense. Half of them are too small, a hazard for semi’s and cars. Spend the money on something useful, like replacing dilapidated bridges.

  2. Matt says:

    I am with Dan Campion. I don’t think this intersection is the right intersection for this roundabout. I do however, agree with the state in the sense that its a dangerous intersection. You can talk all you want about people running lights, but people wouldn’t run lights if they were just given the opportunity to make a left turn. I have watched this intersection for many years. Almost all of the accidents that occur are because people never had the opportunity to turn left because of the massive amounts of traffic (during the “rush hour”). I myself have had to sit through 5 cycles of red/green before I was able to finally make a turn. It gets frustrating.
    I have posted on this topic before. You are opening a can of worms in neighboring neighborhoods by putting in this roundabout. The state is strong arming the town of Salem with this. There WILL be accidents in other areas because of all the people avoiding this intersection. Kids will be at risk while waiting for busses. But hey, I’m just a stupid citizen. The state doesn’t care what my opinion is. But know this. I will be the first to hold the state accountable if ONE child is harmed because of THEIR decision!
    Simple solution: Left turn signals (with left turn red lights), and time them appropriately (or have them monitored). I will be willing to bet that 99% of the crashes at that intersection will solved. Just my two cents. I’ll be watching 😉

  3. Live near 83 and C says:

    I’m not sure why the state is pushing for the roundabout at 83 and C when 83 and JF is much more dangerous. Lives have been lost and multiple injuries have been sustained due the problems with the JF and 83 intersection. The state is using crash data from crashes that have happened near 83 and C, not all that data is coming from crashes occurring in the actual intersection. I agree that adding a turn arrow and taking out those confusing stop signs would make 83 and C safer. If there is money that must be used, use it to make 83 and JF safer. The “improvements” they made there years ago didn’t help much. I would also like to see those from the state pushing for the roundabout at 83 and C try to navigate the intersection at 83 and JF multiple times a day during different traffic patterns. Then I’d like to know how they would feel about their children and loved ones having to navigate that intersection every day.

  4. Lisa says:

    The issue is left turns – the turn lanes are there all thety need to do is hang traffic lights with left turn arrows. Roundabout is total waste of money.

  5. American Tax Payer says:

    Roundabouts are safer than both traffic circles and intersections—experiencing 39% fewer vehicle collisions, 76% fewer injuries and 90% fewer serious injuries and fatalities (according to a study of a sampling of roundabouts in the United States, when compared with the intersections they replaced)

    10/26/2016 ANOTHER accident at Highways 83 and C. The street light is still on the northwest side of the intersection.

    People continue to speed up through a yellow light and drive right through red lights causing injury and even deaths.
    Round-about force everyone to slow down no matter what.
    In many cases vehicles don’t even have to stop, unlike stop lights making roundabout a quicker option.
    West of 45 Citizen you are WRONG. As a semi-driver I have no issues getting through a roundabout. I do however have problems making turns at stop lights when people do not stop at the painted stop bar during a red light.

    At about 6:39 p.m. October 4, 2016, Town of Salem Fire/Rescue units and sheriff’s deputies are responding to a crash at Highways c and 83 in Salem.

    From data collected by NHTSA in 2012, 3561 people were killed in head-on traffic collisions across the nation.

    In 2011, there were 15,307 fatal roadway departure crashes resulting in 16,948 fatalities, which was 51% of the fatal crashes in the nation, according to the Fatal Analysis Reporting System

    In 2012, 1,934 people were killed in rear-end crashes in the U.S.

    In 2012, there were 6,763 deaths from rollover crashes in the U.S.

  6. Traci Perez says:

    I am one of the 32 accidents and one of the 31% of injuries. My accident had nothing to do with a left turn. My accident was a car running a red light headed east on C while I was headed north on 83. If a roundabout was in place my accident would have never happened. I don’t think we need to, or should wait until someone dies in that intersection. A roundabout will do not harm to anyone. The state has identified a problem, that intersection is not working as is and it needs to be addressed.

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