Store owners suing over planned Waunakee roundabout
DOT administrators say traffic circle will be safer, more efficient for growing village
A court battle over a planned roundabout in Waunakee may continue even as construction begins.
The owners of the Village Mobil gas and service station, 501 W. Main, have sued the state Department of Transportation, claiming that the money offered for their property isn't nearly enough.
The DOT is acquiring part of the Mobil's land through eminent domain, and the state's offer is about one-third of the property's value, said attorney Mike Bauer, who's representing the service station's owners.
"I may not have any say about whether (DOT) takes the land, but if you're going to spend millions of dollars building (the roundabout), I do have a say in making sure there's adequate compensation," Bauer said about his clients' mindset.
A jury could hear the case early next year, Bauer said.
Crews are scheduled to begin construction on the roundabout in May, with completion by mid-September 2014, said Kurt Johnson, the DOT's project engineer.
The project is necessary because Waunakee is a growing community with increasing transportation needs, Johnson said.
"We're designing the roadway to provide increased traffic flow for up to 10 years," he said.
Village leaders, once skeptical of the traffic circle in 2010, are more supportive of the project now, Johnson said.
"There's a lot more acceptance for the roundabout," he said.
Plans include a single lane coming into the roundabout from each direction, leading to two lanes once drivers are in the traffic circle.
But roundabouts aren't designed with businesses in mind, Bauer said.
"They're worried enough about making sure they're not hitting the car that's merging next to them," he said. 'The last thing they're thinking about is, 'I should go into this place here to get gas.'"
The Mobil is losing one of its entrances, and the convenience store is closing later this summer. Only the service station will remain, Bauer said.
Separately, controversial roundabouts throughout Wisconsin have sparked legislation at the state Capitol.
Reps. Paul Tittl, R-Manitowoc, and Dave Craig, R-Big Bend, said they would offer legislation giving local governments the ultimate say in whether to build a roundabout.
Under the bill, the DOT would have to obtain a majority vote of the local governing body before moving forward with construction.
The bill is currently in the Assembly.
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