For the City Times
In an effort to alleviate a significant history of traffic accidents, the Wisconsin Rapids Engineering Department recently completed safety improvements at the intersection of 8th Street South and Chestnut Street.
Responding to a mix of compliments, questions and concerns from area residents, City officials are clarifying the
intent, scope and expected outcomes of the project.
Between 2003 and 2009, the intersection of 8 th Street South and Chestnut Street was the site of 54 crashes, 42.6 percent of which resulted in injuries. Most of these crashes were connected to northbound and southbound left turns. In 2012, the City Engineering Department submitted an application to the State of Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) through the Highway Safety Improvement Program, requesting funding for safety improvements at the intersection.
After considering recommendations from the DOT, the City settled on an intersection layout providing left turn lanes that allow drivers to see oncoming traffic more clearly. In addition, signal operations allow for a protected left turn phase, during which only left turning vehicles are allowed to enter the intersection. These design elements are expected to make the intersection safer by reducing left turn crashes.
Navigating the Intersection
It is essential that motorists who intend to make a left turn at 8th Street South make necessary lane changes an appropriate distance in advance, as directed on the overhead lane designator. The left turn lanes are exclusive to left turning traffic. If the vehicle detection system identifies a vehicle waiting to turn left, a left turn arrow will enable unimpeded progress. Once the left turn arrow disappears, motorists are still allowed to make a left turn, but must yield to oncoming traffic.
Chestnut Street lane configuration has not changed with this project; however, right turning traffic onto 8th Street no longer has two lane-widths in which to navigate the turn. Motorists driving larger vehicles while making a right turn onto 8th Street should proceed with caution and anticipate the turning maneuverability of their vehicles.
For more information regarding this safety improvement, residents are invited to call the City Engineering Department at 715-421-8205.