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Traffic and construction affects commuting

April 1, 2015

Commuting is a major issue for a lot of students, faculty and staff at UW-River Falls. Those who live within an hour from campus and don’t have to live in the university dorms will often choose to commute rather than find housing in River Falls.

Commuting is popular for nontraditional students, and commuters are most likely taking the highways or interstate to get to their destination.

There are three main highways that feed into River Falls: highways 35, 65 and 29. These three highways see a lot of traffic each and every day.

Highway 35 from the north gets about 1,400 vehicles a day according to the Department of Transportation. Highway 65 sees about 5,000-6,000 vehicles a day. Highway 29 from Prescott, Wisconsin, sees about 7,000 vehicles per day, and from the east gets about 3,000.

“I have two county highways before I get to I-94 and Highway 35, it depends on when I have to come to school. But if I come to school in the morning it’s a lot of traffic, going home is even more traffic,” said UWRF student Angie Devine. “That’s why some days if I only have class until two I like to get out of here right away but when I come to school in the morning and at night it doesn’t seem to matter if I’m coming to school at 8 a.m. or I’m going home at 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. or 4 p.m. or whatever, there is always a lot of traffic going back. People drive crazy on Highway 35.”

Highway 35 is a four-lane express way. One of the big questions that comes up with a lot of people using these roads all the time is: what can be done to make travel on these roads easier and safer?

“We would probably look at the intersections and trying to make sure the intersections accommodate the traffic getting on and off of the system in the most efficient way,” said Department of Transportation Program and Planning Supervisor Jim Koenig.

The  Department of Transportation has multiple projects coming up in this area in the coming years.

“We got some improvements planned on I-94 through the Hudson area to add some ramp to ramp lanes that will help the merging and exiting traffic and in turn that will help the through traffic make a smoother ride, let’s say between the Minnesota border and the exit for Highway 35 south, which leads to River Falls. Those improvements are planned in the year 2017,” said traffic safety engineer Greg Helgeson.

There are also a few other projects that will be happening in River Falls.

“We also have a improvement planned at Highway 35 and county road M or Division Street on the east side of River Falls that will convert that intersection to a right in and a right out, there will be no right turns there and that will make that intersection function much better than it does today. That is scheduled to be done in about five years,” Helgeson said. “We also have a minor improvement scheduled at the intersection of Highway 35 and Cascade Avenue, Highway 29 East. That is a signalized intersection now, we are planning to install some, what are called, flashing yellow arrow indications for the left turns and we think that is going to improve the safety of that intersection and that is also scheduled in the year 2017.”

But just like everything else nowadays, money has a large impact in what can be done.

The Student Voice will be running 12 commuting stories over the next several weeks in an effort to discover how commuting affects the campus and community.

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