CHIPPEWA FALLS — A roundabout at Highways S and Q, northwest of Chippewa Falls, will be constructed in summer 2020 at a cost of about $1.1 million.
The Chippewa County Highway Committee voted unanimously to entirely close that intersection during the summerlong construction period.
Fred Anderson, Chippewa County highway project manager, said leaving the intersection open during the construction would add six to eight weeks to complete the project and the cost would be closer to $1.38 million.
State Department of Transportation dollars will cover $430,000 of the project, with the county picking up the remaining $670,000, Anderson said. About 7,200 vehicles pass through the intersection daily, of which 26 percent are trucks, he said.
“It will be a nice safety improvement,” Anderson said. “There has been overwhelming public support.”
The county had to buy some right of way at the intersection, but Anderson added that it wasn’t a significant amount.
The goal is to conduct the entire construction in summer between the time school ends in June and starts again in September, Anderson said.
A bridge on Highway Q, north of the intersection with Highway S, also will be upgraded that summer, so that stretch of road would be closed anyway, he added.
County Supervisor Matt Hartman of rural Bloomer, who serves on the Highway Committee, said the cost savings of more than $200,000 made him decide it was worth shutting down the intersection entirely. Also, Hartman said it is better for the safety of the workers to not have vehicles going through during construction.
“I think it’s a better deal for everybody,” Hartman said.
Hartman said he has seen how the traffic has grown on Highway S. There are already roundabouts on Highway S at both Highway 124 and Highway 178.
“I avoid it early in the morning and midafternoon because you can’t get across it,” Hartman said.
Supervisor Tom Thornton of Stanley agreed it was best just to close it and get it done all at once.
“It’s going to cause some pains, but there are other ways to get around,” Thornton said. “We just feel it’s for the best. There is such a traffic congestion problem in that area, and it’s just kept growing. It’s hard to cross (Highway) S.”
David Bokor with EOG Resources requested the road remain open during construction. He told the Highway Committee an entire closure will cost his business $500,000 in lost revenue and additional expenses to haul frac sand on the posted detours.