The Eau Claire City Council has approved improvements to State Street spanning from Roosevelt Avenue, all the way up to Lexington Street. This will include the installation of a roundabout at the corner of Roosevelt Avenue and State Street, said Andrew Werthmann, acting president of the Eau Claire City Council.
In November, the city of Eau Claire invited the University Bike and Pedestrian Committee to watch intersections by the university. Garfield Avenue, McKinley Avenue and Roosevelt Avenue — all of which cross State Street — were found to form intersections with high pedestrians and vehicular traffic.
The university’s Bike and Pedestrian Committee, along with the Student Senate, agreed with the Eau Claire City Council that safer intersections were needed.
Austin Northagen — a fourth-year English student and member of both Student Senate and the Bike and Pedestrian Committee — said other ideas considered and later discarded were suggestions for a street light and speed bumps. Eventually, they settled on the idea of a roundabout, as it helps to slow down traffic while also making it easier for cars trying to turn in to or out of campus, Northagen said.
Werthmann said the cost has been estimated at about $270,000, which includes the necessary purchase of land from the homeowners who live on the four corners by the intersection, as it will cut into their properties.
Despite the high cost, Northagen and Werthmann were both adamant about the need to slow down traffic.
“We have to make sure cars aren’t going through that intersection 30 to 35 miles an hour; that’s too fast,” Werthmann said, citing the hill as a large contributor to the problem.
With the roundabout installed, speeds would slow down to 15 miles per hour during normal traffic, and even down to eight miles per hour during rush hour, increasing the safety for pedestrians as well as cyclists.
Because the roundabout will allow for a smoother flow of traffic than the stop-and-go of a stop light, Werthmann said it will “move cars more efficiently and help down the road with increased traffic. It’s really a plan for the next 100 years.”
The roundabout at the corner of Roosevelt Avenue and State Street is one of four approved. The other three are all along State Street, at the intersections with Lexington Avenue, Hamilton Avenue and MacArthur Street. Construction on the roundabout at Roosevelt Avenue and State Street is set to begin in the summer of 2020.
Hagmann can be reached at [email protected]