Highway roundabouts could require neighborhood approval

Highway roundabouts could require neighborhood approval

Roundabouts built on state highways could face a big roadblock if a state lawmaker’s proposal is approved. 

State representatives are considering giving neighborhoods veto power over any new proposed roundabouts by the Department of Transpiration.

Right now, residents can share their concerns about roundabouts with DOT officials during a public comment period, but the bill’s sponsor, Rep. David Craig, said they lack real power to ensure they have a say in the project.

“It goes to the heart whether or not a municipality should be able to have a final say in whether or not a roundabout gets put into their jurisdiction,” Craig said.

Craig points to Waukesha in 2012, when taxpayers had to pay $165,000 to repair a county roundabout so trucks could make their deliveries.

However, DOT official Tom Rhatican says requiring a local vote could lead to delays and added project costs. He also says it doesn’t make sense to give a community the ability to veto a project that is designed to deal with regional transportation needs.

In Waunakee, where a roundabout was built on Highway 19 last year, local businesses say their delivery concerns really did not matter.

“Semis don’t like it. I get a lot of big semis for meat and paper,” Village Market owner Fred Loy said.  “They don’t like them. They have a problem getting through it.”

Despite the opposition, Loy says he has received all his deliveries.  He says the heart of the issue is making sure residents have a true voice.

“If most of the town or village doesn’t want it – they shouldn’t have to have it,” Loy said.

Craig says he is more optimistic the measure will find support than it has in the past.

The earliest the proposal could see a vote is next year and it would need to pass both the Assembly and Senate, and receive Gov. Walker’s signature.