A serious traffic accident in May led the Door County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to approve spending $100,000 to reduce future mishaps at a Town of Sevastopol intersection.
The request — which covers improvements to the intersection of Wisconsin Highways 42 and 57 and County Highway BB (Gordon Road) — came from Thad Ash, the county’s highway commissioner. It previously was approved by the county’s Highways and Facilities Committee.
An SUV driven by Sarah Koehler of Baileys Harbor was stopped in the northbound lane of the state highway May 11, signaling to make a left turn onto Gordon Road. A second SUV operated by Susan Lundquist of Sister Bay hit the rear of Koehler’s vehicle, which was forced into the southbound lane and was hit by a tractor/trailer truck driven by Jeffrey Garrett of Viroqua, WI.
Ash told the board he has been unsuccessfully asking officials in the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to make safety improvements at the intersection. He was now asking county officials for funding.
Since March of this year, Ash said, there have been six serious accidents at the intersection.
The county has no jurisdiction to make changes on the state highway, Ash said. He said he was willing to do everything in his power to make the intersection safe.
Ash said county workers will make modifications aimed at eliminating left turns from Gordon Road onto northbound 42/57. The plan is to remove the existing traffic island on the county road, Ash said, replacing it with a larger barrier to block the left hand turn.
Motorists would be allowed to make right turns only. Drivers on the county road wanting to go north on the state route would need to drive south to the roundabout on 42/57 at Egg Harbor Road to turn north.
Ash said the project should be finished by Nov. 1.
More could be done on the state highway at the intersection, Ash said, adding that Wisconsin Department of Transportation officials have told him there’s no money in their budget for several years.
Ash said the state road is wide enough to allow a northbound thru lane and a left turn lane. “All (the state) needs to do is apply some paint. That wouldn’t cost much and driving through that intersection would be much safer.”
Linda Wait, a former county supervisor and current Sevastopol town board member, appeared at the meeting Tuesday.
“I drive through that intersection regularly,” Wait said. “It needs to be improved.”
The County Board on Tuesday also approved the installation of a sidewalk yet this year on the west side of Duluth Avenue (County Highway S) from the intersection of Highway 42/57 to the Door County Justice Center.
Concern has been growing for the safety of inmates housed at the county jail with work release privileges who have been walking in the dark at the edge of the busy county road.
Correction: A previous version of this story stated that in a May 2022 traffic accident, an SUV driven by Sarah Koehler of Baileys Harbor hit an SUV driven by Susan Lundquist of Sister Bay. In fact, the SUV driven by Lundquist hit the SUV driven by Koehler.