GREENDALE - The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is planning to make changes at the intersection of West Forest Home Avenue (Highway 24) and 92nd Street (County Road N) near the Oak Leaf Trail in an effort to make it safer for drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
These changes include adding a left-turn lane on westbound Forest Home Avenue, widening the median and adding traffic signals. The plan may also include adding bike lanes to Forest Home.
The intersection is technically in Greendale, but is right at the crossroads of Hales Corners, Greenfield and Greendale. Construction on the project is anticipated in 2019.
A safer path
The planned changes are, in part, motivated by the intersection's history of right-angle car crashes and accidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists.
Between 2010 and 2014, there were 35 crashes at the intersection, according to a DOT representative. Two of those crashes involved a bicyclist, and 23 were right-angle crashes, with nine resulting in known injuries and seven with possible injuries.
As a response, the DOT is taking on a project, estimated at between $1 million and $1.5 million, to hopefully reduce the number of accidents.
"At the public involvement meeting there were several individuals who said they try to avoid this intersection as much as possible. These improvements may encourage those individuals and others who are wary of this intersection to begin using it, which will allow more people to take advantage of the Oak Leaf Trail," said Brian DeNeve, the DOT representative in charge of communication for the southeast region.
While plans for traffic lights, a left-turn lane, and widened median are certain, the plans for bike lanes are still up in the air.
"The bike lanes on WIS 24 (Forest Home Avenue) do not cause a huge increase in costs, but as far as schedule goes the project would take a bit longer. This is due to the amount of time needed to acquire real estate and relocate utilities," DeNeve explained.
Adding the bike lanes would make the road wider, pushing its footprint beyond the existing right of way and impacting North Root River Parkway, which is on the opposite side of 92nd Street. That would mean the DOT would have to buy a bit of land by the road.
In addition to acquiring real estate and relocating utilities, further environmental documentation would also be necessary.
According to DeNeve, the DOT is not sure yet whether the bike lanes will be part of the construction. Officials are currently reviewing the input given at the public involvement meeting and will have further discussions comparing the pros and cons of adding the lanes.
When all is decided, the DOT will present the final project at another public meeting.