Brookfield will have another roundabout, if the Brookfield Common Council gets its way.
And it’s a controversial one.
A divided council, after hearing from a divided community, voted 8-6 Tuesday in favor of a roundabout at North Avenue and Brookfield Road.
Council President Mark Nelson told Patch that the decision is advisory.
“It’s a county road, so the ultimate decision is with the county,” he said. “The reason that it was before the Brookfield Common Council was because the county wanted to have our input. The idea of what should be there was pretty controversial. There was a lot of neighborhood input on that issue.”
The choice ultimately boiled down to a roundabout or traffic signals at the intersection.
According to Nelson, the aldermen and residents who favored the roundabout largely argued that it would make the intersection safer.
“They referred to a lot of data that suggests that roundabouts are safer in some respects because the traffic is slower, and if you have accidents they are not as severe as if you have someone who blows a red light and T-bones somebody,” he said.
Nelson was among those who opposed a roundabout, largely because of it is proximity to , 2530 N. Brookfield Rd. He and other opponents say it would endanger children and other pedestrians and bicyclists.
“There is a school down the street and there was some concern about children on bikes and pedestrian traffic being able to negotiate the roundabout safely,” he said. “I voted against the roundabout. My thinking was that with children — pedestrian children or children on bikes — I like the clarity of what a red-and-green light gives.”
Also, Nelson said that he lives by the roundabout at Barker Road and North Avenue and believes it confuses drivers, but once they figure it out, they “tend to go through them pretty fast. My concern was that you’re putting this one in a residential area, not too far from the school.”
Intersection Getting Busier
According to a memo from Public Works Director Tom Grisa, both options for the intersection also include a plan for sidewalks in the affected area. A public hearing was first held on the matter earlier this summer. Grisa told the council that city staff had researched both options and also preferred the roundabout.
A traffic study presented to the Council shows that the intersection had in 2009 an annual average of 11,300 vehicles per day west of Brookfield Road and 14,000 vehicles east of Brookfield Road. The posted speed limit is 35 mph. Waukesha County performed traffic counts in 2012 and found that the peak hours for use of the road are from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.
It’s expected that traffic on the road will continue to grow to almost 14,000 vehicles west of Brookfield road and to more than 17,000 east of Brookfield Road by 2033.
Waukesha County routinely evaluates traffic flow and crash rates at intersections, which is what led to the request for improvements, according to the traffic analysis presented to the council.
The analysis found that signalized intersections can be dangerous because they present numerous “conflict points” between motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
“Most serious kinds of crashes at conventional intersections are virtually eliminated by roundabouts,” the report quotes one study as finding. Crashes were reduced 39 percent at intersections around the U.S. with roundabouts, according to the study.
The project would be funded by Waukesha County.
Residents' Views Mixed on Roundabout
The packet given to aldermen included public comments from residents, who were also divided on the issue.
“Roundabout by all means!” wrote one resident.
“Roundabout looks and fits into the landscaping in the area and works well on Barker and North,” wrote another.
However, another nearby resident wrote the city that the traffic, litter and noise in the area had gotten “progressively worse” and she feared that neither solution would solve it.
Dick Prudlow, a nearby resident, said he believed the traffic signal option would have backed up traffic, whereas the roundabout would keep it moving.
Other residents contacted city officials with concerns after the public hearing date.
For example, Janis Rollefson, an adjacent landowner, wrote the city that her family’s biggest concern is the reduction of traffic noise.
“We support the proposal for the roundabout,” she wrote. “We think it would be the best/most effective alternative to the current problematic/inefficient/inadequate four-way stop at this intersection for improved continuous traffic flow and noise reduction.”
However, resident Margie Heyworth wrote city officials opposing the roundabout, saying: “As a parent of a child who has been hit by a car at the Brookfield Road and North Avenue intersection, I implore you to not put a roundabout at this intersection. …A roundabout will only make this intersection more dangerous for non-vehicular traffic."
And resident Charlene Schultz wrote officials that a roundabout would be a “boondoggle” that would endanger children.
“It’s not just a meeting of two roads, it’s a community pathway between two schools,” she wrote.