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Coming soon to Highway P: ‘Look kids: Big Ben, Parliament’

By Keith Barber

A map shows the planned roundabouts for a construction project on the Highway P interchange set to begin Monday. (Map courtesy of MTJ Engineering)

The message boards along I-94 indicate that construction on the Highway P and I-94 Pabst Farm Interchange in the village of Summit will begin Monday.

So, here we go around and around again. Yes, the dreaded roundabouts/rotaries are included in the reconstruction plan. When I first saw the plan I laughed and shook my head. But now the gravity of the situation is settling in, and I’m not sure whether to remain ornery or try to move on.

If you’ve ever had the unfortunate opportunity to drive through the mess at Moorland Road and I-43 in New Berlin, you know exactly what I mean. Who thinks up these things? Safety statistics evidently show they are safe, but look at this scenario: patrons leaving a theater on Moorland Road and entering into a rotary mixed with traffic exiting I-43, entwined with general street traffic. And then throw a few semi-trailers in there for excitement.

Let’s not stop at just one roundabout. There are two on either side of I-43 in New Berlin. The first time I went through this disaster I thought, “What the heck just happened, and did this make any sense whatsoever?”

I actually try to avoid this intersection now because I am the type of driver who tries to avoid confrontational driving. There are signs posted throughout the rotaries as well, but who has time to read them? The only sign that should be displayed is “Road Rage Ahead.”

Now the Pabst Farm Interchange will take mostly farmland and woods and create FOUR rotaries all within less than a mile of each other. Lunda Construction of Black River Falls is the contractor.

The intersection is being constructed in response to future growth projections at the Pabst Farms development, which is one freeway exit to the west, and past Highway P.

True, the eastern part of Pabst Farms lays just west of Highway P, but according to the master plan for the development, the area is to be developed into condominiums, some single-family residences and a small business technology park.

Do we really need four rotaries here?

The exit takes us to many of Waukesha County’s fine lakes and recreational opportunities. I can only envision guys with boats and trailers going around and around on Saturday mornings trying to get to the nearby boat launch at Lower Nebobin Lake, or school buses having to navigate through four rotaries mixed with morning and evening traffic.

This is just beyond ridiculous.

Rotaries, in my opinion, are dangerous and expensive, and many people I’ve talked to agree. This particular project has a cost of $11.8 million, including entrance and exit ramps from I-94.

Rotaries work, for example, in Boston, where the city roads were built around stacked lumber and freight, and new cities grew quickly around them. There almost was no choice.

But around here we have vacant land where we do have a choice to construct the best scenario. It’s time we put a stop to this rotary fever. So, here’s a message to the Department of Transportation: No one likes roundabouts.


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Keith Barber is a data reporter at The Daily Reporter. He filed this blog while driving around a roundabout.


  1. Keith–you are an idiot. If you don’t even know the difference between a rotary and a roundabout, you shouldn’t be writing for a construction/transportation site. How hard is it to yield, look left, and go when you have a gap? Maybe it’s time you turn in your drivers license if this concept is so confusing for you…

  2. I actually like roundabouts. It significantly reduces traffic at intersections. The 4 way stop at County Line (Q) and 164 used to be horrible at 5:30-6:30pm. The roundabout fixed it.

    Keith, you really should learn the difference between a rotary and roundabout. Try Google.

  3. Thank you all for recent comments about the Highway P roundabout blog. I should have been more specific in my language using roundabouts and rotaries. Although I know the technical difference, I just automatically associate one with the other. I should not have used the term “rotary” in my blog however. Even though they are both circular, they are different. So, to clarify, let me describe a rotary as a large traffic circle designed for high speed entry and multi-lane weaving. Often times, there are several roads leading to and from the rotaries, and can be very intimidating. Rotaries have a higher rate of traffic accidents than roundabouts. I had been introduced to rotaries while living on the east coast some years ago, and they are a caution. They had fallen out of favor nearly 40 years ago because of the high incidence of accidents, and newer versions have been redesigned as “roundabouts”.
    So then, the new and improved version is now called a roundabout. They are smaller in scale, and designed for low travel speeds for one-way traffic flow around a center island following the “yield-to-left” rule where vehicles in the roundabout have the right-of-way.

    Whether we actually need these things or not is a matter of opinion.

  4. The first cost of any two choices (even ‘do nothing’) is a poor way to compare. Life-cycle cost is the best. For intersections, 20-years is a common period to compare. When comparing modern roundabouts to signals for a 20-year time period, modern roundabouts usually cost much less. Factors to consider: first cost (construction), operation and maintenance (electricity, re-striping, etc.), crash reduction, daily delay, daily fuel consumption, pollution, area insurance rates (this costs more where it is less safe to drive). Each of these things, and others, can be estimated for any two choices and everyone near or using the intersection will pay some portion of all of these costs.

  5. What a waste of good land and money! There is a perfectly fine intersection a few miles to the west, at Hwy 67. Pabst Farms can’t even fill the stores that are already built! They still can’t secure anchor stores for the mall that may be built. Keith, I totally agree with your opinion, roundabouts are dangerous and expensive! We don’t want them in our neighborhood! STOP BUILDING THESE STUPID THINGS.

  6. Thank you Keith for your say in this roundabout disaster that is being created by the idiots that thought it best to put it here at P and 94. I lived in the area for MANY years and the stop sign always worked there. This is not a city and has been a long time established country area with many local people having driven this stretch most of their life’s. The reason this is happening is because of the flood of non local people moving and invading our once beautiful space. When they put the stop lights there, that already upset me. Do people need color lights to tell them what to do? Again, a stop sign always worked for me because I could read. Hwy 18 too was destroyed of it’s beautiful canopy of trees and then to add to the destruction, another stop light by hwy C where 10 cars on hwy18 vs 1 from C and a roundabout put in at Wales are both totally a waste of tax payers hard earned money. I have heard also that they want to put another one there where 83 and 18 cross. What the h…??You were right in saying that these things belong in your BIG cities. I love country living and if I didn’t, I would move to the city. From what I have gathered, it is the city or suburb people moving out here that encourage this and love it. Feel free to move to a city please!!! I was against this from the start and hate this type of unnecessary change that is not needed here. I think the people who love this need to go back to driving school and learn the road basics. As for change, I am always for it as long as it makes common sense and this is far removed from that.

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