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Hwy. 33 Roundabouts have More than Enough Signs, Officials Say

A maze of signs lead up to the newly built roundabouts on Highway 33, and Port Washington officials are hopeful they can work with the DOT to get that problem fixed.

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.

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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.

Dave July 19, 2012 at 11:44 AM
this is all bull signs for 35 mph both side of street sign for everthing both side of a 2 lane road .Get your head out of your ass...Please
Dave July 19, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Take down the little flags at the top of the signs ..Get real what are they for did the DOT require them..
Rik Kluessendorf July 19, 2012 at 12:48 PM
I counted three sets of pedestrian crossing signs for one intersection. By sets, I am not talking about one for the eastbound, one for the westbound. I'm talking about each side of each lane. So a stray pedestrian crossing by Stevlin's (I know we've seen a million of those) has 12 signs to protect them. The roundabout warnings... "roundabout ahead" followed by two "roundabout" signs twenty feet later... are not only ridiculous (because of their proximity to each other), but inconsistent. Entering the 33/LL intersection from the North, I believe there is only one sign. And what about the street lights? I'm not against lighting the corridor... that will be a wonderful thing. But we're going to need sunglasses driving with a street light every 50 feet. Didn't the City just remove a bunch of street lights on the south 32 corridor because they were excessive? These seem like details that should have been noticed and questioned in the planning stages.
Dave July 19, 2012 at 02:43 PM
City Engineer Rob Vanden Noven should be fired..for this
Vic July 19, 2012 at 04:03 PM
I just think we got a bit screwed on this whole thing. Could have just rebuilt the LL bridge. Now all that time, effort and money got us is slower travel times. Even during construction speed limit was 45mph. Today with twice as many lanes we are down to 35. To add insult to injury it turns out the whole thing is too complicated for our simple minds. ...and don't even bring up roundabouts in Europe, they are nothing like these debacles.
ScottRAB July 19, 2012 at 05:54 PM
the flags are standard to alert motorists to a change, something new. they are typically removed after 90 days. I agree, if the whole thing is new, the flags are redundant.
ScottRAB July 19, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Vic, You're confused. Modern roundabouts are slow and go intersections, not stop and go like stop signs or signals. Slow and go means less delay than a stop light, especially the other 20 hours a day people aren’t driving to or from work. Average daily delay at a signal is around 12 seconds per car. At a modern roundabout average delay is less than five seconds. Signals take an hour of demand and restrict it to a half hour, at best only half the traffic gets to go at any one time. At a modern roundabout four drivers entering from four directions can all enter at the same time. Don’t try that with a signalized intersection.
Geoff Tolley July 19, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Just for your entertainment: http://randomcitation.blogspot.com/2007/10/magic-roundabout-in-swindon-england.html
Greg July 19, 2012 at 06:23 PM
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. 2 questions: 1) Why did we build a road if we’re a walking community? 2) Should they install a few dozen more signs and make it even safer?
Terry July 19, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Maybe the mayor should appoint another 16 person committee to study this.... Truly we don't have enough of those yet.
Vic July 20, 2012 at 04:40 PM
ScottRAB, One thing I am not is confused. Proponents of roundabouts keep bringing up how well they work in Europe, I have spent quite a bit of time there and have not seen roundabouts as they are being built here. I'm guessing you have something to do with these... " At a modern roundabout four drivers entering from four directions can all enter at the same time." - unfortunately, the distance between the entrances is too short, it's almost as if its a 4 way stop with yield signs. Putting a roundabout on the footprint of an ordinary intersection is not going to give the results everybody is looking for. Couple that with a good number of drivers that can't comprehend the concept of "yield" or use their turn signals and drive in the left lane.
MJ July 22, 2012 at 03:24 PM
I'd like to know how much money was spent on signage alone!
Vic July 23, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Just drove through it again. Why was it closed early in the week? Paving projects? Doesn't look like anything got done...

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