Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Stop Light

We had a discussion with the Chancellor for UW Whitewater about a week ago about the stop light being installed, at the insection where the accident happened. Thanks for his support, on the stop light issue.

Main Street signal gets green light
Grant allows city to fund traffic light at intersection

The city of Whitewater received a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation for installation of traffic lights at the Main and Whiton street intersection.Pedestrian safety became a concern after former student Mike Chaloupka was hit by a car while crossing the street Aug. 28. Chaloupka, who was in a wheelchair, died two weeks later from injuries sustained from the accident."I was happy to learn that the city was able to secure grant funding to help with the installation of the light," Chancellor Richard Telfer said. "It will help make the intersection safer."The Department of Transportation will send the city an agreement for the project covering 90 percent of the costs including engineering, equipment and installation costs. The remaining 10 percent of the project will be funded by the city.City Manager Kevin Brunner said the intersection safety revamp will cost $12,000 to $15,000. The project carries an estimated total cost of $138, 400.Late last year, the Whitewater Common Council approved the installation of a traffic signal at the intersection and authorized the engineering contract with Strand Associates of Madison.Public Works Director Dean Fischer said he called the WisDot Southeast region office after the start of the project asking if the Highway Safety Improvement Program would help fund the installation of three signals."The Southeast region of DOT asked that I submit the application to them for review from the region's perspective to give the city an indication whether it would compete with other projects," Fischer said. Fischer said the city later received word the project would meet the requirements to be funded as a safety improvement project. Safety improvement projects revolve around what are perceived to be high-risk rural roads.Fischer said they must follow a selection process to find a suitable architectural and engineering service for publicly funded projects. WisDot advertises the project to the public and selects a bidder to perform the installation.
"Once the engineer is selected, the DOT negotiates the contract with the engineer," Fischer said. "Once the engineer is contracted, they design the traffic signals and prepare the plans and specifications." After Chaloupka's death, Telfer became part of a traffic study focus group approved by the Whitewater Common Council in October to look at possible intersection improvements.The group also included former Whitewater Student Government member Dane Checolinski and University Police Chief Matt Kiederlen.The council sought ideas to enhance safety at the intersection in addition to electric pedestrian signs the city installed to prevent further accidents.Ideas best received by the council included making the intersection a multiway stop to regulate traffic, traffic signals and converting the two-way street into a one way."The council decided the stop-and-go light would be the best alternative," Brunner said. "Then we started to engineer this and got wind of some possible funding so Dean pursued the funding."Brunner said despite having to go through a competitive bidding process, the city will continue to work with Stand Associates due to their extensive work on the intersection so far.Common Council President Patrick Singer said the traffic lights were the city's best choice. "Obviously it helps us fund some other things that we were looking at doing that we put off to fund the intersection," Singer said. "So it's the best of both worlds; we get the safety, and we get that [light] installed in a timely manner."District 2 Councilman Max Taylor said he agreed the grant will help save money on city renovations."The fact we were awarded this grant is absolutely fantastic for our budgetary situation," Taylor said. "It's going to take the burden off our capital improvements plan so we can spend that money on other projects."Brunner said the light likely won't be installed until late 2009 or early 2010 due to the bidding and development processes.

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