With the Highway 33 construction project promised to finish in just less than a month, attention has shifted from the roadway itself to further up: the abundance of signs.
There are "pedestrian crossing" signs, "one way" signs," "roundabout ahead," signs, arrows and more that are meant to direct traffic around the three newly built roundabouts on the highway.
Concerns have been raised both about driver confusion and the possibility of excess signage creating an eyesore.
"I think what's so great is you have this beautiful 'Welcome to Port (Washington)' sign … potentially all these beautiful aesthetic elements as you enter the city, and you don’t want to have that lost," Mayor Tom Mlada said.
City Engineer Rob Vanden Noven said the answer he's heard from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation when asking about the signs is that the ones that are posted are determined by guideline standards for roundabouts.
"That’s their standards for signage — so every sign serves a purpose," Vanden Noven said.
DOT Communications Specialist Mike Pyritz told Patch the group is more than willing to work with city officials on the issue, but confirmed that the signs that are out there are standard procedure.
Pyritz said signage decisions can depend on the amount of traffic on that particular road, the size of the road (multiple or single lanes) and the visible distance leading up to the roundabout, among other considerations.
"The lakefront is just absolutely fabulous. ... With all the efforts that Port Washington puts forward to attract people — we want to make sure that both the people who live in the area and use it (regularly), or people that visit once or twice a year … have a clear, concise message as they come into town," Pyritz said.
Pyritz also pointed out that there has been a sudden shift in signage — which may cause a more prominent reaction to the signs.
"For a long time there were very, very few signs up because of the construction, so there’s been a large shift," he said, adding that some signs up now will be removed when construction is done — so that should help.
All signs, Pyritz said, have a purpose in helping drivers safely navigate the roundabout — but alderman still think its overkill.
"Can we have one sign instead that says 'yeild left?' Because that’s all you need to know on a roundabout," Ald. Joe Dean said.
"I think they have many more than we need to keep this safe," Ald. Jim Vollmar said.
Bigger signs to come
Some overhead signs are also planned to be in place on the roundabout. Initially, the overhead signs were set to be 11 feet long and 8 feet tall, but Vanden Noven said smaller signs — 3 1/2 by 4 feet — are also available.
"I had no idea about the overhead, I blame myself for that and not paying attention ... I’m a little frustrated that it’s there, but there’s not much we can do about it. And shame on us for not seeing it," Ald. Michael Ehrlich said.
"I get that a lot of this stuff is statute and dictated … but I really think we need to do what ... we can at this point to cut down, A — the number, and, B — the size. We got to do what we got to do right now," Ald. Dan Becker said.
Resident Kendel Feilen attended the meeting to express his frustration over the project, and echoed the aldermen's concerns with the signs.
"You cannot see all of the signs because they are blocked by other signs," Feilen said. Feilen said he doesn't think the council has taken a strong enough stand in speeding the project along — it's behind schedule — and he's not confident anything will happen with the signage.
"LL 33 project has been going on for years, it appears, from my point of view, that a great lack of cooperation and coordination that has been going on with this project," he said. "Remove these signs over time? I don’t see any signs being taken down."
Initially, the Department of Transportation Project Manager , but Vanden Noven said the project is now slated to end on Aug. 17.
And even if no signs come down, Vanden Noven offered a bit of optimism.
"I think the most prevalent sign out there is probably the pedestrian symbol, and I think on a plus side its because we’re a walking community … (and) we certainly want safety," he said.