J-Turn, New Experimental Intersection, Reduces Dangers On Highway

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A once-deadly intersection on Highway 53 in Douglas County is now one of the safest in the state, thanks to an experimental intersection built there two years ago.

Department of Transportation (DOT) project managers Andy Stensland and Dave Ostrowski say the experimental intersection is called a “J-turn“. It’s safer because it doesn’t allow traffic to cross the highway in a straight shot.

“Yeah, I think from our perspective it’s working fine. I don’t know if we’ve had any serious … ones. There may have been a few minor fender-benders or two but no serious accidents. And the use is going to be expanded statewide. The DOT is looking at putting some in in Door County on Highway 29.”

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And another one in Washburn County. J-turns are not only safer but also cost a lot less than the alternative. That’s to build an interchange. The Douglas County J-turn cost less than $2 million, while an interchange costs between $10-$14 million dollars, plus a few million more for real estate since it takes up more room.

Simply put, it’s shaped like a “J”. But it’s not quite so simple to explain.

“You know, if you were coming from the west traveling east, you would actually turn right on 53, go southbound, get into the left lane and then make a turn into the northbound lane, go across the median – the median’s been widened out there – and then proceed north and the you would make a right-hand turn.”

Ostrowski says the locals have caught on to it, anyway.

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