Around and around we go.
Another truck-tips-over story in a roundabout unfolded last week. The mishap was on one of Milton’s three (in a row) roundabouts off Highway 59, closing the highway for almost 24 hours. The driver was unharmed, and a police report said the driver was not speeding.
The rural location east of the city was a perfect place to build the three roundabouts. Constructed right next to the United Ethanol plant, the farmers in this area enjoy spending afternoons watching all the tanker trucks and semi-trailers swerve around the short circles, probably betting which ones can make the turns.
The accident occurred at about 9:45 a.m. Nov. 27. Unfortunately, the truck involved was full of ethanol. A nearby retention pond was able to draw in the thousands of gallons of spill as a result. It was determined by local emergency crews that it would be safer to allow the tanker to drain rather than cause a potential fire hazard by introducing spill apparatus equipment.
Milton Police Chief Dan Layber said that the spill created an immediate explosion hazard, and nearby residents were evacuated for a short time; the long-term environmental effect is unclear.
Last year at this location, a semi-trailer truck had its axle snap off when the driver couldn’t make the turn. Of course, that could be a maintenance issue. Trucking companies have expressed concern, however, about the narrowness of the lanes and the right-turn radius of the roundabouts, although the Wisconsin Department of Transportation states the roundabouts meet federal regulations for lane width and turn radius for large vehicles.
Yet the state agreed last year to modify the Milton roundabouts at the request of the city. Emergency vehicles and snowplows have difficulty maneuvering within the roundabouts, and a reconstruction will include shrinking the center of the roundabout islands, and widening the lanes.
The state also agreed to reconstruct the roundabout in Genesee at Highways 83 and 59 in Waukesha County after several truck tip-overs occurred there.
So, the good news is that corrections are being made. The bad news is that roundabouts are here to stay. I go around and around with many people over this. It appears that the engineers and road builders I talk with love them — and everyone else hates them.
Keith Barber is a data reporter at The Daily Reporter. He will usually circle his desk three times before finally sitting down.