Pilot intersection program begins Oct. 16
By Angie Landsverk
Two intersections in downtown Waupaca will have flashing red signals for a month as part of a pilot program.
It will begin Monday, Oct. 16 at the intersections of Main and Fulton streets and Main and Badger streets.
Those two intersections will thus mimic four-way stops.
“It isn’t unprecedented,” Brennan Kane, the city’s director of community and economic development, said regarding the idea.
The intersection of School, Badger and State streets is a four-way stop, and the intersection of Churchill and Royalton’s streets went from being a signalized intersection to a three-way stop.
Kane said city staff and SEH Engineering will study how traffic flows through the intersections of Main and Fulton streets and Main and Badger streets during the pilot program.
The pilot program will also include the temporary removal of the right turn lane movements from Fulton Street onto Main Street and from Badger Street onto Main Street.
“Everyone saw the pretty pictures,” he said, referring to the proposed reconstruction and redesign of Main Street.
The goal of the Downtown Masterplan the city adopted is to create an environment that is safe and pedestrian friendly, Kane said.
The plan proposed curb extension bumpouts at intersections as a way to make downtown more walkable.
The bumpouts would decrease the walking distance between streets, slow vehicular traffic down and provide spaces for gathering and focal points, according to Kane.
Eliminating signalized intersections at these two intersections is another way to improve walkability and make pedestrian movements safer, he said.
The city’s consultant recommended the city conduct a pilot program for a month.
Kane said the elimination of a signalized intersection could result in a cost savings of $250,000-$500,000 on the overall construction budget.
The Downtown Masterplan included the removal of the right turn lane at Fulton and Main streets.
The traffic study conducted by SEH Engineering concluded there is no need for that movement.
There will be signage during the pilot program. People will also be able to comment on it.
The Waupaca Common Council voted in favor of the pilot program when it met on Oct. 3.
Its vote also included allowing city staff to make an application to the state, asking the National Highway System truck route through downtown Waupaca be modified.
Main Street, between Badger and Fulton streets, is considered part of that system.
Kane said the city will submit a request to change the route to use Washington Street, instead of Main Street.
Police Chief Brian Hoelzel noted the intersection of Washington and Fulton streets is dangerous and difficult to cross.
“Is there going to be a four-way stop at Fulton and Washington?” he asked. My office is right out there. I get to see it all day long.”
Justin Berrens, the city’s director of public works, said the pilot program at Main and Fulton streets will allow the city to see whether it affects the intersection at Fulton and Washington streets.
“We have no plans for it now,” he said of Fulton and Washington. “But this study may throw up a bunch of red flags.”
Berrens said these are things the city needs to find out before the reconstruction of Main Street begins.