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Brookfield roundabout takes long road to creation

After eight years, construction set to begin Monday

June 04, 2010
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By Laurel Walker of the Journal Sentinel

June 04, 2010 0

Brookfield - Eight years after Brookfield city officials scuttled plans for Waukesha County's first roundabout, at N. Barker Road and W. North Ave., construction on a two-lane roundabout there is set to begin Monday.

The project, which will close North Ave. but keep Barker Road open during construction, is scheduled to be completed by Aug. 13.

A lot has changed since 2002, when a strong citizen backlash caused city officials to kill the project, Brookfield Mayor Steven Ponto said Friday.

For starters, people are accustomed to roundabouts - a number of which have been built by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation in recent years. Ponto said that as an alderman in 2008, when new design work began, he and his counterpart in the 4th District surveyed residents in the area and more than half of those responding favored a roundabout.

He said the city's long view is that it is better to improve intersections than to widen roads.

"I'm looking forward now to having that intersection improved so it can handle more traffic," Ponto said.

The roads are also now the responsibility of Waukesha County after jurisdiction was transferred from the city.

Gary Evans, the county's project engineer, said the $1.1 million construction bill is being paid for with federal economic stimulus funds through the state Department of Transportation. About 17,000 vehicles per day travel Barker Road at that intersection, and significant delays occur at the four-way stop during peak travel times.

While construction will start Monday, North Ave. won't be closed until June 15, and then initially only to the east of Barker. Access to Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare-Elmbrook Memorial hospital on North will be only from the east.

Evans said traffic will move on a combination of existing and temporary lanes. Once the western half of the project is finished - about July 4 - North Ave. east of Barker will be reopened but will be closed to the west of Barker until the project's completion in mid-August.

The detour route from North Ave. to the west of Barker follows Springdale Road - new signals have been installed there - to Blue Mound Road to Brookfield Road and back to North.

About Laurel Walker
Laurel Walker covered local, school and county government for 20 years -- the last half of that at the Milwaukee Journal and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel -- before she was named Waukesha County columnist in 1997. Today she writes about the people, places and events around metropolitan Milwaukee with a broad suburban focus. She was the youngest of nine children raised on a central Wisconsin farm before leaving the nest for journalism studies at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and a masters degree at the University of Oregon. She has spent the last half of her life in Waukesha County, where she and her husband raised two sons. Though she has a fondness for life in Waukesha, she eagerly partakes in the culture of the big city to the east and the recreation of the forests to the west. With sons in the arts, she has a special fondness for symphonic music concerts and art museums. She finds peace in a good book at a Northwoods getaway weekend, adventure in family visits to the east and west coasts, and satisfaction in a column well-written that reaches readers.
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