Criteria show need for Platteville bypass
PLATTEVILLE - Anyone driving through the city of Platteville knows the terror of having a large semi truck round a tight city street corner only to cringe in fear of being struck. This scenario and many others like it have led University of Wisconsin-Platteville senior design students, Zac Abrams, Andrew Schultz and Nick Willick to complete a study regarding the need for a Platteville bypass.
The students developed a set of criteria that would help assess the need for a bypass north of Platteville for State Highways 80 and 81 which currently traverse through the city of Platteville. If constructed, the bypass would reduce traffic through the city, create less wear and tear on city streets, provide residents quicker travel times due to less traffic and hopefully provide safer streets for both drivers and pedestrians. "We began by looking at the 151 bypass project and other city projects in Whitewater and Fort Atkinson to see what construction challenges they were experiencing. This information was used to establish a set of seven criteria we could relate to Platteville," said Willick. These criteria include potential population growth and city expansion over the next 25 years; unsafe intersections; traffic volumes; level of service of the roadway; a volume versus capacity of roadway analysis; heavy vehicle traffic counts and the overall economic impact.
The growth factors included looking at Platteville residential growth over the next 25 years and using this data to establish a relationship for consideration of a need for a bypass. Accident data and the difficult 90-degree turns semi trucks have trouble negotiating would be limited with a smooth bypass design, alleviating unsafe intersections. Average daily traffic data from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation was collected to study traffic volumes and an engineering rating system was used to analyze the traffic flow on the roads at certain intersections. Four additional intersections were analyzed for the volume of traffic versus capacity the roadway can handle analysis. Another study looked at the origin and destination of heavy vehicle traffic in the area which showed between 800 to 1,000 heavy vehicles travel along the 80/81 routes on a daily basis. A final consideration was the economic impact the bypass may have on local businesses. "Businesses were willing to adapt to the 151 bypass, so they would probably do the same for another bypass system," said Schultz. He added, "All of the criteria met future projections and some of them even warranted the need for a bypass now." Commented Abrams, "Once we'd established the necessity of the bypass due to growth influenced by the UWP Tri-State Initiative and the seven criteria, we located possible corridors for development."
In order to look at bypass placement, the students gathered information about existing roadways, wetlands and proposed city land use plans. They looked for the best locations that would have the least impact on the area around the town. They also used a special software program visually showing the layout of features within Platteville such as layered maps displaying aerial, zoning and special features. "The proposed bypass placement would be along the east of Platteville since the west has streams and steep slopes that could cause problems during construction," said Willick. Some of the classes that helped the students during their culmination-engineering project included traffic engineering, highway engineering and geographic information systems taught by UWP civil engineering professor Sam Owusu-Ababio. "Owusu-Ababio was incredibly helpful pointing us in the right direction, giving us names of references, helping with the software program and even providing materials from previous projects to help gather information," said Willick. Added Abrams, "Having supportive professors is something that sets UWP above other universities. They truly want their students to succeed in school and beyond and are all about promoting their students and their accomplishments." All the students working on this project anticipate graduating in May 2006. Abrams is a civil engineering major with an emphasis in transportation. He is the son of Jerry and Alaine Abrams of Westby. Schultz is a civil engineering major with an emphasis in transportation. He is the son of Kenneth and Lousette Schultz of Rochester, Minn. Willick is a civil engineering major with emphases in transportation and construction. He is the son of Karl and Anne Willick of Waterford.
Prepared by: Rachael Lehr, UWP Public Relations, (608) 342-1194, email@example.com