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Twin Ports to get first roundabout

It looks like Duluth-Superior will get its first roundabout exit when the Bong Bridge gets its first major rehabilitation starting in 2014. Wisconsin Department of Transportation Project Manager Matt Dickenson says the roundabout will exit onto B...

Roundabout

It looks like Duluth-Superior will get its first roundabout exit when the Bong Bridge gets its first major rehabilitation starting in 2014. Wisconsin Department of Transportation Project Manager Matt Dickenson says the roundabout will exit onto Belknap Street at the end of the Bong Bridge in Superior.

"That's a big deal. It'll be the first one in the Twin Ports," he said.

A roundabout is an interstate-style circular road that will get traffic off the Bong Bridge without using stoplights or stop signs. Dickenson says it's safer than the traffic lights and the hard right turn vehicles have to take now onto Belknap at the end of the Bong exit in Superior.

"You can see that there's some guard rail in front of the North Star gym there. I guess some people are a little worried somebody might not make that turn and go right into their building."

Superior Mayor Bruce Hagen says it's a great idea, one that he wholeheartedly supports.

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"This is the first roundabout north of Rice Lake. It's exciting. I've had the opportunity to use roundabouts and it may get a little confusing but there'll be no signalization. They do tell us that roundabouts have a better record for fewer accidents than do signalized intersections."

Dickenson says one leg of the roundabout will funnel traffic onto Belknap, but there will be another exit to the Winter Street Industrial Park in Superior's North End onto Garfield Avenue.

"It'll alleviate some problems for the city as well because right now Garfield goes underneath the Belknap viaduct and that road is in very bad shape. It doesn't have the width or curve radius it needs to get trucks through there."

Dickenson says the roundabout will open when the $11 million Bong reconstruction project is finished in 2015. The roundabout itself will cost between $400,000 and $600,000. On the Duluth side, the approach from the Bong Bridge will remain much the way it is now, an intersection controlled by traffic lights.

Not originally included in the plan for revamping the bridge, the roundabout was added at the suggestion of a participant at one of the Bong Bridge public meetings held.

The Bong Bridge will be closed in one direction the first year, then the other direction in the second year. Dickenson says he's not sure if it'll be the Duluth or Superior-bound direction that will be closed the first year.

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