Traffic signal a go

Due to the redevelopment of Barron City Hall into a new Kwik Trip, traffic signals are likely to be installed at the intersection of Highway 8 and La Salle Avenue to control increased traffic.

A stoplight appears to be a go at the intersection of Highway 8 and La Salle Avenue by Barron City Hall, or what will eventually become a Kwik Trip convenience store.

Kwik Trip engineers are expecting the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to approve the company’s request for a stoplight--technically known as a traffic signal, City Administrator Liz Jacobson reported to the City Council on Tuesday, Jan. 12.

The DOT is in the process of studying changes to traffic flow at the intersection brought on by Kwik Trip.

Jacobson said this study will be used to determine if perhaps a roundabout would be preferred at the intersection. But Kwik Trip is confident it will be a traffic signal, she added.

As a result, City Council approved a 2-month extension in reaching a development agreement with Kwik Trip until March 15.

The Council also passed a cost share resolution with Kwik Trip for changes to the intersection. In the agreement Kwik Trip is offering to cover at least half of the city’s costs for intersection, projected to be $175,000. Total cost of the project will be about $350,000.

However, Council members didn’t express much enthusiasm for the traffic signal idea.

“I don’t think it’s a great spot for a stop light, but I don’t think it’s a good spot for a roundabout either,” said Byron Miller.

These discussions with the DOT have added a delay to a corresponding city project, which seeks to relocate the City Hall, the police department and public works to the former Family Dollar property downtown.

Jacobson said the City is exploring the proposition of a Tax Increment Finance District to contain the future Kwik Trip site and downtown properties.

A TID (sometimes known as a TIF district) is a designated area where a property tax base value is set for each land parcel and then, for a set time period, property tax revenue derived from valuation exceeding the base goes to pay for development within the district.

The improvements lead to higher tax valuations, which pay for further development.

Jacobson said the City Council will need to meet again this month to determine when to bid the project.

The City’s contracted engineering consultant, Sarah Hinz of Cedar Corp, said the City could proceed to bid the municipal center and delay the public works shop, bid both in the spring or delay both. Bids were scheduled to go out in February with approvals to be considered by the City Council in March.

Hinz said current high construction costs could make a delay worthwhile, but bidding both projects at the same time could be more appealing to contractors.