Roundabout Project Proposed in Sturgeon Bay

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is taking preliminary steps towards the installation of roundabouts on Highway 42/57 in Sturgeon Bay.

The proposed roundabouts would be installed at the Michigan Street and Egg Harbor Road intersections of Highway 42/57, and according to Sturgeon Bay City Engineer Tony Depies the project – which also includes the transformation of the Highway 42/57 and Alabama Street intersection into a right-turn-only intersection – has its roots in an earlier proposed frontage road project.

The frontage road would have run along the west side of Highway 42/57, allowing drivers more options when trying to head north or south from the limited access Utah Street intersection.

By installing the roundabouts, drivers will gain the same options without the construction of an additional road.

“Right now, we have this entire area of the city that only has [Utah Street] for access, and they have to go north,” says Depies. “Now they’ll be able to get on the highway, go north, go around the roundabout, and come back south.”

Depies says the roundabouts are also part of the city’s continued efforts to make the intersections on Highway 42/57, which saw several fatal crashes in the ‘90s and two in the year 2000, safer and more efficient.

“If there are accidents, and there are bound to be, they will be the fender-bender minor accidents,” he says. “The state has a history to prove that the accidents [in roundabouts] are less significant. They’re strictly property damage, very little personal injury, and virtually no fatalities.”

At the end of May, QUEST Civil Engineers, LLC, a company contracted by the state to aid in design of the project, sent a letter to each utility company in the area asking them to detail their facilities along the stretch of road.

“We received system maps from each of the utilities who have facilities in the area,” says Jim Wendels, project leader from QUEST. “We then locate those facilities and develop a roadway plan.”

A schedule for development of the roadway plan is expected to be set sometime in the next two to three months, according to Tom Boyke of exp U.S. Services Inc., another design firm contracted to assist in the project. The actual planning process is expected to take about a year.

“There will be design reports, environmental reports, traffic management reports, historical and architectural investment studies, and at some point there will be public meetings,” says Boyke.

Depies anticipates an adjustment period and some opposition to the project, but he says that, typically, those opposed to roundabouts change their tune once they’ve gotten the chance to get used to them.

“It only takes a couple of times driving them or some time looking on the Internet to learn how to drive through these things and be perfectly safe,” says Depies.

Actual construction on the roundabout project is expected to begin sometime in 2015.