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Highway 64, County T intersection improvements delayed

Travelers through the intersection of Highway 64 and County Road T won't need to follow any detours in the next year.

A project to reconstruct the intersection was initially scheduled for 2009, but will be pushed back to 2010 due to budget constraints, said Wisconsin Department of Transportation traffic safety engineer Greg Helgeson.

The intersection is tied to a much larger, multi-million dollar paving project from New Richmond to Four Corners, he said. When money got tight in the highway safety improvement fund, both projects were postponed.

"It didn't make sense to split the jobs up," Helgeson said.

The intersection is well known around the northwest regional WisDOT office in Eau Claire, Helgeson said. Historically, there have been at least five fatalities at the Highway 64 and County Road T crossing since 2002.

"It's interesting because there are relatively few crashes but most have severe consequences," he said.

At least three of those fatal crashes can be blamed on failing to stop at the sign on County Road T, Helgeson said. Vehicles don't even yield for the stop but rather speed right through it, he said.

Since a fatality in 2006, the WisDOT has put temporary safety measures in, he said. They doubled the size of the stop signs and added a "stop ahead" sign. Rumble strips were added to the north bound lane of County Road T.

"Things have settled down quite a bit," Helgeson said.

Many of those improvements will be permanent after the 2010 construction.

The intersection project currently calls for a widened road.

Additionally, a left turn lane on Highway 64 will be added. That will lower the risk of being rear-ended while waiting to turn, Helgeson said.

Raised concrete islands on County Road T will make the stop signs easier to see. Typically, stop sign set-ups like that are found at intersections with traffic signals.

Helgeson explained, "We want really good placement of stop signs."

Although there is a slim chance the project could be moved forward again, bids will probably be taken in January 2010. Construction would begin in the spring of 2010.