The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has been approved for a grant that would fund safety improvements, possibly in the form of a roundabout, at a Town of Sevastopol intersection in 2027 or 2028, a DOT representative told the Door County Highway Safety Commission on Wednesday.
The improvements would be made at the intersection of Wisconsin Highways 42 and 57 and County Highway BB (Gordon Road). Accident reports provided by the Door County Sheriff’s Office in November 2022 showed the intersection was the site of 25 crashes resulting in 24 injuries and one fatality from 2014 through that time.
The DOT has discussed putting in a roundabout at the intersection but would seek public input before making a decision, county highway commissioner Thad Ash said.
The long-term improvements are “a done deal,” DOT representative Randy Asman said – it’s just a matter of which year they will happen. Ash noted that land acquisition would play a role in the process. He said he believes one landowner near the intersection will “fight it until the end.”
The Door County government now will consider making interim changes to the intersection to improve safety before the DOT improvements are in place, county officials said. Those interim fixes could cost the county $250,000, Ash said.
The intersection has been the subject of discussions between the county and the DOT for months. The county initially asked the state to include safety improvements to the intersection in a resurfacing project now underway on that stretch of the state highway.
After the state said it was unable to do that, the county Board of Supervisors last summer approved spending $100,000 to improve the intersection by preventing left turns from Gordon Road onto the state highway. About half of the 25 accidents at the intersection from 2014 to late 2022 involved drivers attempting to make such a turn, the crash reports show.
Those plans required state approval because they involve the state highway, and the DOT asked the county to add an “acceleration lane” for drivers turning right off Gordon Road onto the state highway – leading in part to the increased cost of the county’s interim improvement concept.
The county delayed moving forward with its improvements while the state’s grant application was pending because a condition of the grant is that no improvements were made at the intersection in recent years.
Beyond the 12 accidents at the intersection involving left turns onto the state highway, an additional six crashes identified in the accident reports involved a vehicle heading north on the state highway and attempting to turn left onto Gordon Road.
The county has asked the state to include changes to the state highway as part of the current resurfacing project that would address that issue. The county’s request was to create clear, separate lanes in the northbound side of the state highway for drivers who are turning left and continuing straight, by converting a short, existing passing lane into a through lane for drivers continuing straight.
That proposal is not feasible because creating that through lane within the current footprint of the road and its gravel shoulders wouldn’t meet state standards for such lanes, Asman said.
“It wouldn’t meet any sort of standards, so that’s why we can’t do it,” he said.
Asman said any interim improvements the county makes would not jeopardize the state’s commitment to the long-term work, even if the safety record of the intersection improves in the meantime.
Ash and county supervisor Roy Englebert, the commission’s chair, said the county Highway and Facilities Committee and the full County Board now will consider whether to pursue the interim improvements.
“I think an upgrade is always warranted for safety,” Ash said. “To put it there for a couple of years, I don’t know.”
Ash said he was open to ideas and discussion about the proposal.
The Highway and Facilities Committee is scheduled to meet next Wednesday, May 10, at 9 a.m. The County Board is scheduled to meet Tuesday, May 23, at 9 a.m.