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Brookfield roundabout takes long road to creation

After eight years, construction set to begin Monday

June 4, 2010

Brookfield - Eight years after Brookfield city officials scuttled plans for Waukesha County's first roundabout, at N. Barker Road and W. North Ave., construction on a two-lane roundabout there is set to begin Monday.

The project, which will close North Ave. but keep Barker Road open during construction, is scheduled to be completed by Aug. 13.

A lot has changed since 2002, when a strong citizen backlash caused city officials to kill the project, Brookfield Mayor Steven Ponto said Friday.

For starters, people are accustomed to roundabouts - a number of which have been built by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation in recent years. Ponto said that as an alderman in 2008, when new design work began, he and his counterpart in the 4th District surveyed residents in the area and more than half of those responding favored a roundabout.

He said the city's long view is that it is better to improve intersections than to widen roads.

"I'm looking forward now to having that intersection improved so it can handle more traffic," Ponto said.

The roads are also now the responsibility of Waukesha County after jurisdiction was transferred from the city.

Gary Evans, the county's project engineer, said the $1.1 million construction bill is being paid for with federal economic stimulus funds through the state Department of Transportation. About 17,000 vehicles per day travel Barker Road at that intersection, and significant delays occur at the four-way stop during peak travel times.

While construction will start Monday, North Ave. won't be closed until June 15, and then initially only to the east of Barker. Access to Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare-Elmbrook Memorial hospital on North will be only from the east.

Evans said traffic will move on a combination of existing and temporary lanes. Once the western half of the project is finished - about July 4 - North Ave. east of Barker will be reopened but will be closed to the west of Barker until the project's completion in mid-August.

The detour route from North Ave. to the west of Barker follows Springdale Road - new signals have been installed there - to Blue Mound Road to Brookfield Road and back to North.

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