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Island of green

Roundabout increases safety in Muskego

Photos by Craig Donze

Photos by Craig Donze

The Kelsey Drive roundabout in Muskego is an island of green, both in appearance and design.
It’s also a potential lifesaver.

The intersection at Kelsey Drive and Highway Y was previously the site of many accidents and two fatalities, said Gary Evans, manager of engineering services for Waukesha County. After researching solutions, Evans said, a roundabout design was chosen for the site because research shows roundabouts greatly reduce the number of  crashes, especially those resulting in serious injuries and fatalities.

Native grasses planted in the center of the roundabout will help improve safety as well, he said, as they will grow tall enough to block the view of oncoming traffic.

“You want to limit the site distance across the roundabout,” Evans said. “So, the plants deliberately help screen the area so people are concentrating on what is coming from the left, not what is coming into the intersection across the roundabout.”

The plants also serve the project’s effort to be more sustainable, he said, by naturally controlling storm-water runoff and eliminating the need for mowing the island. The low maintenance design saves energy and reduces emissions that would have resulted from regular mowing.

As traffic volume continues to increase in Waukesha County, Evans said, the need for energy efficiency increases. Delays at regular intersections cause increased vehicle emissions and fuel consumption, he said, while roundabouts keep traffic moving and reduce emissions.

The roundabout also eliminated the need for an energy-consuming traffic signal, Evans said, and LED lights were installed for streetlights instead. The moves saved $1,652 in energy and maintenance costs, he said.

While some roundabout designs in the county have been highly criticized, Evans said, good public communication before and during the project helped alleviate any concerns.

The county has received zero complaints about the project, he said, and, even more important, there have been no fatal accidents at the intersection since the redesign.

“We talked (with residents) about the potential for accident reduction,” Evans said. “As people saw the studies by the Department of Transportation and independent agencies such as the insurance industry, people started taking more notice.”

Kelsey Drive Roundabout

Location: Muskego

Submitting company: Waukesha County

General Contractor: Musson Bros. Inc., Rhinelander

Engineers: MTJ Engineering LLC, Madison; One Source Consulting LLC, Brookfield

Owner: Waukesha County

Project size: 130 feet

Project cost: $560,000

Start date: June 2009

Completion date: August 2009

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