The Franklin Common Council voted 3-3 at its April 17, 2018 meeting to approve financing the design of a roundabout at 51st and Drexel just north of Franklin High School.
Aldermen Steve Taylor, Kristen Wilhelm and Mark Dandrea voted YES. Aldermen Dan Mayer, Mike Barber, and John Nelson voted NO.
Mayor Steve Olson then broke the tie by voting in favor.
The approval meant the city would spend $89,933.78 to have the firm R.A. Smith design a one-lane roundabout at the intersection.
The resolution presented to the council at the meeting noted that 51st and Drexel is a heavily congested intersection in Franklin. The Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC) in its analysis of the intersection determined that a single lane roundabout design is the most appropriate solution for that location.
Prior to the vote some residents spoke in opposition.
One woman said during the citizen comment period the proposed roundabout was “too close to the high school and fire station.” She asked other residents to attend the meeting to speak out but they told her it wouldn’t do any good.
“They don’t listen to us, they already have their minds made up,” she was told.
Another woman voiced concern that accidents would increase at the intersection because of a roundabout.
Mayor Olson said the issue boiled down to leadership.
“You make your decision based on what’s best for the community in the long term.”
Aware that motorists may not know how to maneuver the roundabout, including senior citizens (Claire Meadows Senior Apartments is right down the street on 51st), Olson noted that he recently traveled to Rome, drove through a roundabout there, and he was “just fine.”
Well then, I guess the entire matter is settled, right?
Olson then continued with an ill-conceived statement that rightfully riled many residents.
“Seniors complain they don’t like roundabouts. Well, how much longer are they going to drive? I’m sorry. It’s a plain fact,” said Olson.
Alderman Steve Taylor argued doing nothing is not an option and that motorists would be able to handle the roundabout.
“I think the residents of Franklin are pretty smart,” said Taylor.
Is that intersection unsafe?
Proponents of the roundabout at 51st and Drexel, just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Franklin High School might claim/believe it will make the intersection safer.
They’d be wrong.
Following the tie-breaking vote by Mayor Olson I asked Franklin Police Chief Rick Oliva to supply me with data about serious accidents that have occurred at the intersection dating back the past ten years. The chief responded quickly via e-mail.
“We can’t search specifically for the intersection. We have to search the hundred blocks east-west and north-south of the intersection.”
Chief Oliva continued.
“In the last 10 years there was one personal injury accident in the 5000 block of W. Drexel. There were 6 property damage only accidents in the hundred blocks E-W and N-S. Since you’re looking for serious accidents, it would only be the one.”
Thank you, Chief Oliva.
Seems if you’re approaching this matter from a public safety perspective it’d be best to just leave well enough alone.
Last August the Wisconsin State Journal reported the following that like Oliva’s information blows holes in the contentions of the pro-roundabout crowd:
A study of 30 roundabouts in the state completed by (Andrea) Bill, (a traffic safety engineer at the Wisconsin Traffic Operations and Safety Laboratory at UW-Madison) in 2013 that looked at crashes three years before and four years after they opened showed that 23 had more crashes after they opened.
Overall, there were 572 crashes four years after the 30 roundabouts opened versus 311 during the three years before the intersections were converted. Of those, 464 crashes resulting in property damage occurred after the roundabouts opened versus 194 before they opened. Both periods saw similar numbers of accidents with injuries.
Bill was also quoted that she thinks, she thinks there will be fewer crashes. And that could be. But it hasn’t happened. Au contraire, just the opposite has taken place with roundabouts.
The roundabout at 51st and Drexel is unnecessary ($89,000 just for the design services) and may very well cause MORE crashes given the data we have at our disposal.
This argument for roundabouts is lame
My blog about the roundabout back in April caused a virtual explosion on social media. Lots of folks who are giddy about the roundabout are sticking it to the opposition.
Learn to live with it.
Get used to it.
Learn how to drive in it.
Excuse me is right.
Learn to live with it?
Get used to it?
Learn how to drive in it?
Seems the anti-roundabout folks can say the same to the bunch that despises the four-way stop that’s been around for, well, forever.
Learn to live with it.
Get used to it.
Learn how to drive in it.
Finally, let’s not forget the larger issue at hand
The city of Franklin did very little to inform the general public about this item beyond the required meeting notices.
Whenever BallPark Commons needed to kiss rings for even the slightest approval everybody in town seemed to know about it.
Not so with the roundabout.
Franklin Mayor Steve Olson and Common Council members Steve Taylor and Kristen Wilhelm all voted for the roundabout. They are all actively involved in social media. Yet none of them to my knowledge (and I could be wrong because I don’t monitor everything they post) published anything prior to the meetings.
You, Private Citizen, are supposed to check the city website, check the meeting agendas, come to meetings, ask questions and make public comments (good luck getting an answer or response other than “thank you”). The powers that be know that 99.99% of residents don’t do any of that, and submit it’s their fault for not being informed.
So the roundabout matter was settled quickly, a lot of money was spent unnecessarily, and there are some hoping this will die down and go away, banking on Franklin’s citywide political apathy.
Opposed to the roundabout? Not happy with how it all came down? Once again in 2018 you were served a big heaping helping of how things are done in Franklin. On April 17 the Common Council did what it does best. It voted to spend a lot of money that I submit could very well be unnecessary and result in less, not more safety.
The design services have been approved so this issue is just a formality. Next will be the actual construction that is planned to begin after the last day of school for the 2018-19 school year (June 7, 2019) with the project set for completion prior to the start of school that fall (mid-August 2019).
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