If you're sitting at the light heading east on Watertown Plank Road at Pilgrim Road, especially at rush hour, it's easy to get discouraged. You may wait two or three cycles at the light before being able to proceed onto Moorland Road if you're heading south.
In fact, the problem is so bad, it has lead Brookfield City Engineer Jeff Chase to wonder if lights at Moorland and Bluemound roads are even lined up with the Watertown Plank Road intersection.
"The signal timing of that intersection is kind of a mystery to me," Chase said, wondering aloud if Elm Grove, who technically controls the light, even talks to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
But Elm Grove officials understand the problem: It's simply not fully in their control. Village President Neil Palmer explained that because the light is so close to the Bluemound Road intersection, the state, for practical purposes, controls the light.
"We have to work in synchronicity with the state," Palmer said.
"They do have control over how we control that light," he said. "That's simply because the dominance has to be given to the Bluemound traffic under the way the state controls the intersection."
With turn lanes blocked due to construction on Pilgrim Parkway - which turns into Moorland Road at Bluemound - any traffic from Watertown Plank hoping to get to Bluemound Road heading west or Moorland Road heading south is finding it difficult with the backups.
Given that the traffic patterns change slightly as the road construction progresses, Public Works Director Michael Flaherty said it just doesn't make sense to go out and change the timing of the light every week.
Palmer echoed those sentiments, adding that there's a safety risk to trying to work outside the state's plans.
"If we decided to just be cowboys and do whatever wanted to do, we'd screw up the Bluemound traffic and somebody would get hurt."
Village officials in Elm Grove and city officials in Brookfield have hinted that a new interchange in Brookfield may be on the horizon. Palmer stated flatly that until a new interchange is in place, it's simply not feasible to send so many people through the Moorland Road interchange without having bottlenecks.
"Until there is a new interchange for Brookfield residents and business people to get on and off Bluemound, it's always going to be a problem."
Recent attempts to move forward with an interchange at Calhoun Road were met with opposition from nearby residents. Calhoun Road near Interstate 94 is highly residential, although the Ruby Farms property - now owned by BMO Harris Bank after failed development attempts - is considered by the city to be a potential place for a cornerstone development to accompany the interchange.
Brookfield Road was also part of the consideration, but its proximity to Barker Road makes it less attractive as an option.
Any plans for an interchange are still years away, and the construction on Bluemound will be around into fall. In other words, as Neil Palmer puts it, the people who know better will find another route around Watertown Plank Road.
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