Special Assignment

Federal government labels four intersections ‘hazardous’ in Southeast Wisconsin

CREATED Feb 20, 2013

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MILWAUKEE - Pedestrians struck. Cars badly damaged. Intersections that have seen injuries and even fatalities. The federal government calls these Southeast Wisconsin intersections 'hazardous'.

When TODAY’S TMJ4 asked the Wisconsin Department of Transportation about the area's most dangerous intersections, they pointed to this federal report (read the report here) naming the roads with the most severe safety needs. Then TODAY’S TMJ4 asked the experts at the University of Wisconsin's Traffic Operations and Safety Lab (TOPS) to explain why drivers should be paying attention.

"There's a lot of safety implications,” said researcher Andrea Bill. “Whether it's just property damage only all the up to those severe and fatal injury crashes that have an effect on the public."

TOPS gave TODAY’S TMJ4 a count of serious crashes at hazardous intersections over the last five years. To qualify as a serious crash, the incident must involve at least $1000 in property damage, an injury or a fatality.

TODAY’S TMJ4 is naming a sampling of the intersections in Southeast Wisconsin that made the Federal Highway Safety Administration’s 5 Percent Report.

The first of the four intersections is in suburban Mequon at Port Washington Road and Donges Bay Road. Over the last five years, there have been 45 serious crashes and 26 injuries. In 2008, a car struck a man crossing the street here. That man died.

It came as no surprise when we told Brian Ruelle that the intersection outside his Ozaukee County restaurant made the list.

"There's quite a bit of traffic and sometimes the corner itself is hard to navigate,” Ruelle said.

Downtown Milwaukee is one of the most popular night spots in the entire state. It is busy with cars and pedestrians on their way to and from theaters, restaurants and bars. It is also where you will find the second intersection on the list: Water Street and Juneau Avenue. The serious crash count is 55 and there have been 17 injuries.

The third on our list of accident prone intersections in Southeast Wisconsin is down south in Kenosha at 22nd Avenue and 18th Street. It has seen 44 serious crashes and 21 injuries.

In Waukesha, the fourth and final intersection in this TODAY’S TMJ4 report. It is St. Paul Avenue and Prairie Avenue. Data from UW's traffic lab reveals 31 serious crashes at this intersection since 2007 and nine injuries. It is an unassuming, smaller intersection near an industrial area with heavy semi traffic.

Miguel Fernandez owns an auto repair shop on the corner. He said he sees crashes or near hits on a daily basis.

Crashes spiked at St. Paul and Prairie in 2012. There were at least eight.

"I don't know if 2012 was an anomaly as far as the number of crashes there. But it's certainly something that now that it's been brought to our attention we'll take a look at," said Waukesha Police Captain Ron Oremus.

The DOT and local traffic engineers promise to review the traffic data. But, rebuilding or changing intersections is a slow process.

"We want people to be safe at all the intersections,” said DOT spokesperson Michael Pyritz. “When we do a corridor study, we're looking at projects that, if they get fast-tracked, they may not get built until 2025."

According to data from the TOPS lab, the intersection with the most serious crashes in the last five years is University Avenue and Farley Avenue in Madison. It had 57 incidents from 2007-2012.