MARINETTE — Members of the Marinette County Traffic Safety Commission received an update Wednesday on the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s (WisDOT’s) plans to monitor traffic at the intersection of U.S. Highway 41, Roosevelt Road and County Trunk T, but were informed that any plans to make the intersection pedestrian-friendly would be up to the City of Marinette. 

Discussion regarding the intersection began in a previous meeting of the Traffic Safety Commission, where concerns were voiced about northbound traffic on Roosevelt Road becoming backed up because of the length of the intersection’s red lights and the train crossing. The backed-up traffic was reported to sometimes block the intersection with Old Peshtigo Road and entrances to several businesses along Roosevelt Road, and a suggestion was made to allow both lanes of Roosevelt Road to proceed straight, rather than limiting only one lane to go through the intersection. 

The intersection has also been the subject of some discussion in the City of Marinette, where officials are concerned about the increasing number of pedestrian traffic crossing the road to get to the businesses along Roosevelt Road. The city is currently exploring options for making the intersection and surrounding area more pedestrian-friendly. 

Randy Asman, WisDOT traffic engineer for the northeast region of Wisconsin, said Wednesday that the department plans to conduct a traffic count on the intersection in question to assess its traffic flow. 

“We do those traffic counts during the summer, because that’s when we have staff available to do that,” he said. 

Asman said WisDOT’s summer help will be arriving next week, and the count on the intersection will begin “shortly thereafter.” 

“Once we’ve received that data, then we’ll analyze the data, we’ll take a look at the signal timing and see if there are any modifications that we need to make based on that traffic count,” he said. “We’ll do a 12-hour count, from essentially 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and some locations will have a different timing plan for the morning than we will for the evening, it depends on traffic flow.” 

Asman said the count should be completed by May, and any warranted changes to the traffic signal would likely be made by the end of June. He added that WisDOT is purchasing a new traffic count system which records the number of pedestrians crossing the intersection, and the data from it could be used to make decisions about whether or not to adapt the intersection for pedestrian use. 

“I can look to see how much that extra data costs, in this case,” he said. “Because otherwise we pay a flat fee.” 

Highway Commissioner Eric Burmeister said he had recently met with two representatives from the City of Marinette, Public Works Director Brian Miller and City Attorney Jonathan Sbar, to discuss the possibility of putting in pedestrian crossings. 

“As I explained to the city, from the county’s side of things, I don’t have a problem with putting a sidewalk in, but they’re going to have to put it in and maintain it. I’ll give them an easement to do that,” he said. “However, my concern, looking at this intersection, is the intersection isn’t designed at this point, from what I can see, to handle pedestrian crossing.” 

Burmeister indicated that pedestrians would be crossing four lanes of traffic, plus a number of turning lanes. 

“You would have to change that whole intersection to be ADA-compliant and everything else,” he said. “I explained to Brian Miller, and Brian Miller agreed with me, and so did Jon Sbar, that building a sidewalk to the edge of that road is only going to imply that people can cross that road.” 

Burmeister said he would be having more discussions with the city about the topic, and he would be waiting to see what WisDOT’s traffic study results were. 

“Just to be clear, the only thing that we’re investigating is whether or not we change the signal timing,” Asman said. “We’re not doing any investigation of pedestrian accommodation or facilities or any of that stuff, so your process doesn’t need to slow down because we might change the signal timing by five seconds, or some amount, or maybe turn on a green arrow or something like that.” 

“Crossing 41, the way it’s designed, was not designed to handle pedestrian crossing,” Burmeister said. 

The committee took no action on the topic, and decided to discuss the intersection again at its next meeting.