Despite opposition from city staff and divergent opinions among alders, the Sun Prairie City Council voted 6-2 to approve a four-way stop sign designation for the intersection of Robin Drive and White Tail Drive.

City Director of Public Services Adam Schleicher wrote in a report to alders that the Public Works Committee received concerns regarding speeding, pedestrian visibility and potential for accidents at the intersection, which is located on Sun Prairie’s east side. A request was made to install a four way stop at this intersection.

Staff from the Engineering, Public Works and Police Department reviewed the intersection. A recent traffic and speed count that was conducted in September of this year provided speed and volume counts. The 85 percentile speeds for this location were near or slightly above the posted speed limit of 25 and revealed a percent of speeding vehicles of less than 5%.

Schleicher wrote that a review of crashes from last five years did not produce any crashes that would have been mitigated by the installation of a four way stop. The last consideration that was evaluated for a four way stop control was the volume of vehicles.

“The maximum volume that was observed was on Robin Drive at no more than 500 vehicles per day,” Schleicher wrote. “This combination of data led to staff not recommending the installation of a four way stop because it was not warranted by criteria described in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Those criteria include a crash problem of 5 or more accidents in the last 12 months or traffic volumes entering the intersection of at least 500 vehicles per hour.”

District 2 Alder Bob Jokisch supported the staff recommendation.

“I just wanted to comment that I know these are tough decisions certainly,” Jokisch said. “And I appreciate the work that staff did on this and at the same time, some of the neighbors had concerns about this and I know this a difficult decision, but I was opposed to it.”

District 1 Alder Steve Stocker, who favored the installation of a four-way stop along with fellow District 1 Alder Terry McIlroy, explained his position.

“You know, in the last 12 months, I think you said Adam, the crash data doesn’t substantiate it. But if you know it, this is on the corner Pastor Charlie from Bethlehem Lutheran — where he lives. And he called me one day and said, ‘Steve . . . a vehicle just went through my yard, speeding, flipped over, went right through my neighbor’s fence.’ The neighbor, they’re in the military, and the neighbor’s deployed a lot and doesn’t have the resources to actually go out and repair the fence. And here this car is upside down through the fence.”

Stocker said it only takes one of those types of crashes to enforce his belief that stop signs are warranted at the intersection.

“If you’ve been out there, unfortunately, this road was designed on a curve. And as you come around the curve, you’re smack dab at the intersection if you come from Highway 19,” Stocker said. “It kind of serpentines around. But when you come to that intersection, you come to an intersection that’s heavily walked. I mean, we put sidewalks in there for people to walk and they use it. When Alder McIlroy and I were out there talking to the residents, I can’t tell you — and this was a cold morning — I can’t tell you how many people were walking out there.

“If we have cars go flying by there, they might not be able to stop in time,” Stocker added. “If we’re all about safety, it doesn’t cost that much to put a four-way stop in. Gosh darn it, you know, for the safety of the people on White Tail, I think we need to do this. So I’m very much recommending a four way stop at that particular intersection.”

District 3 Alder Mike Jacobs, who said he lived in that area for 12 years, said this isn’t the first time residents have asked for a four-way stop sign at the intersection.

“But I haven’t lived there for some time,” Jacobs added, “so I can’t say I’m that, you know, familiar with what’s happening recently.

“But I’m looking at this report and we can either go with the science or we can go with hocus-pocus and what are we here to do?” Jacobs asked, referring to the four-way stop as “hocus locus.”

“We have the staff, the professionals, recommending one thing, we have the science that is used throughout the state recommending one thing and we have people asking for something else,” Jacobs said.

“I’m simply going to say that if we use this, what’s happened here, as the threshold, for where we’re going to put stop signs, we’re going to put stop signs, four-way stops, at almost every intersection in the city,” Jacobs added.

“The argument against stop signs is not the cost and you’re right — heck, I’d pay for it myself — it’s what it’s going to do to traffic flow. And I believe the curve there was purposely made . . . to be a traffic-calming measure. So I’m opposed to this, even if local residents favor it,” Jacobs said.

The installation of the four-way stop was approved with only Jokisch and Jacobs voting no.

Windsor-Thompson budget amendment approved

Acting on a recommendation from the city’s Public Works Committee, alders approved a budget amendment for traffic signal improvements at the intersection of Windsor Street and Thompson Road.

According to a staff report from Ben John, Operations Manager from the Public Works Department, the Sun Prairie Area School District recently completed its unusually hazardous transportation plan which delineates areas that will receive bussing for elementary and middle school students.

As part of the plan, an area north of the intersection of Windsor Street and Thompson Road will no longer be bussed to Prairie View Middle School.

“Concerns were raised to the school district and the city regarding the safety of this intersection,” John wrote in the report. “The School District’s consultant, TADI, determined that due to the current safety features at this intersection (e.g., high visibility crosswalks, pedestrian countdown times, no-right turn on red signing, and leading pedestrian intervals) this intersection was acceptable for middle school students to walk to school.”

John wrote that the city applied for and received a Highway Safety Improvement Program grant for work at the intersection of Windsor Street and Grand Avenue. The improvements are modifications to the traffic signals, enhanced pedestrian crosswalks and improvements to the offset of the left turn lanes.

The council approval will result in the work being scheduled for completion in 2023.

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