WisDOT, MSA lay out options for upcoming U.S. Hwy. 8 project at City Hall meeting

County Rd. A, L intersections to see changes; work slated for 2026

By Jalen Maki

Tomahawk Leader Editor

TOMAHAWK – The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) hosted a public involvement meeting at City Hall in Tomahawk on Tuesday, Jan. 17 to discuss proposed options for an upcoming road construction project in the Town of Bradley.

The project will encompass a 2.5-mile stretch of U.S. Hwy. 8 from just west of Lincoln County Rd. L to Klade Rd., which is just west of U.S. Hwy. 51.

The meeting was conducted Sean Spromberg, Project Manager with MSA Professional Services of Rhinelander, and several other individuals from MSA and WisDOT who make up the project team.

Spromberg explained that the purpose of the meeting was to identify the needs for the project and present them to those in attendance, both in-person and virtually.

The project started with identifying that the asphalt pavement on the stretch of U.S. Hwy. 8 between County Rd. L and Klade Rd. is deteriorating, Spromberg explained. In order to address the issue, WisDOT proposed removing the top layer of asphalt and replacing it with a new layer of asphalt.

“The whole road doesn’t need to be reconstructed,” Spromberg stated. “There’s still surface life left in the underlying pavement, in the underlying base aggregate that’s underneath the road. So this is a treatment, just to repair that top layer of asphalt.”

As part of the project, new permanent signing and pavement markings will be installed throughout the stretch of road.

The project also aims to address crashes that have occurred at the County Rd. L and County Rd. A intersections with U.S. Hwy. 8 in an effort to ultimately “improve the overall safety of the corridor,” according to WisDOT.

Amanda DeAmico, Project Engineer with MSA, discussed the proposed alternatives for both intersections, while Stromberg laid out proposed changes to the Hiawatha Trail crossing at U.S. Hwy. 8 and explained how traffic is expected to be impacted by construction.

The project will encompass a 2.5-mile stretch of U.S. Hwy. 8 from just west of Lincoln County Rd. L to Klade Rd., which is just west of U.S. Hwy. 51. Photos courtesy of WisDOT.

County Rd. L

DeAmico said that at County Rd. L, one alternative would be to improve the existing two-way stop intersection by adding a left turn lane for traffic traveling eastbound on U.S. Hwy. 8 and reconfiguring the right turn lane. These lanes would help separate through and turning traffic.

According to DeAmico, the majority of crashes that occur at the County Rd. L intersection are angle crashes, with drivers attempting to turn left onto County Rd. L not judging the gaps properly, or drivers on County Rd. L pulling onto U.S. Hwy. 8 in front of another driver.

“So by adding this left turn lane, it’ll help drivers on County L have a better idea of the intentions of the people that are driving on Hwy. 8, whether they intend to turn or not,” DeAmico explained.

Although this alternative is anticipated to reduce the number of crashes at the intersection, DeAmico pointed out that traffic on U.S. Hwy. 8 would remain at high speeds, meaning that crashes that occur at the intersection would “still have a high probability of being severe crashes.”

DeAmico also noted that with the intersection’s location on a curve, it can be difficult for drivers to judge the speeds of other vehicles.

“So that is not necessarily improved with this alternative,” she stated.

The proposed two-way stop controlled intersection alternative at County Rd. L and U.S. Hwy. 8.

The other option proposed for the County Rd. L intersection is the construction of a single-lane roundabout.

Placing a roundabout in the northwest quadrant of the intersection would help improve the visibility of the intersection, DeAmico explained, adding that a roundabout would “help mitigate the fact that there’s a curve on Hwy. 8.”

“One of the benefits of a roundabout at this particular location is that it will slow traffic from all directions, so it’s going to be easier for traffic on the side roads to judge whether it’s safe to enter the intersection, and any crashes that do occur with this type intersection are going to be less severe because everybody’s driving slower,” she said.

The proposed County Rd. L and U.S. Hwy. 8 roundabout alternative.

County Rd. A

Similar alternatives were proposed for the intersection of County Rd. A and U.S. Hwy. 8.

Left and right turn lanes would be added to the existing two-way stop intersection, and like at County Rd. L, these lanes would help separate through and turning traffic, DeAmico explained.

“The left-turning vehicles at this intersection are what the predominant crashes are, and they’re severe crashes, so this helps separate that and improve the safety of the intersection,” she stated.

With the County Rd. A intersection also being on a curve, similar issues concerning judging speeds of other vehicles and potential severe high-speed crashes are also present.

The proposed two-way stop controlled intersection alternative at U.S. Hwy. 8 and County Rd. A.

A single-lane roundabout at County Rd. A would provide safety benefits similar to those at a County Rd L. roundabout – better visibility in the intersection and slower-moving traffic.

DeAmico noted that with the roundabout alternative, the wayside at the corner of U.S. Hwy. 8 and County Rd. A could only be entered and exited near the intersection through right turns. However, both right and left entries and exits would remain available via Short Rd., south of the intersection.

The proposed County Rd. A and U.S. Hwy. 8 roundabout alternative.

Hiawatha Trail

The project also proposes changes to the Hiawatha Trail crossing at U.S. Hwy. 8, just east of County Rd. L.

Stromberg noted that the current trail crossing “comes into U.S. Hwy. 8 at a pretty aggressive angle.”

“One of the improvements we considered was realigning the trail, such that it swings to the west along the DOT right-of-way and comes in more at a 90-degree, or perpendicular, angle to U.S. Hwy. 8,” he stated.

With this adjustment, it would be easier for trail users to look for traffic when crossing U.S. Hwy. 8, Stromberg explained.

The proposed realignment of the Hiawatha Trail crossing at U.S. Hwy. 8.

Traffic impacts

Stromberg also discussed how traffic would be affected by the project.

Work on both the roundabouts and four-lane alternatives would be “staged construction,” meaning that although lane closures, temporary roadway surfaces and flagging operations would be expected, through traffic would remain on U.S. Hwy 8 throughout the project.

“The A and L legs may be closed for a brief amount of time,” Stromberg stated. “We’ll stage those improvements along both the county roads, and Roberts Rd. as well.”

While temporary driveway closures may be necessary, access for local businesses and emergency services will be maintained via the staged construction method.

Construction timeline

Work is currently scheduled to begin in the spring or summer of 2026, but pending funding, the project could be pushed out to 2027, according to Stromberg.

The project will take an estimated five months to complete.

Stromberg said the project team has been in contact with local officials and the Wisconsin State Patrol in an effort to ensure that events, such as Fall Ride, are minimally impacted by construction. Contracts with contractors will reflect this goal, Stromberg said.

Project information available online

To learn more about the project or to submit comments or questions, visit the project page on the WisDOT website at www.bit.ly/3kmj3Hz.

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