Rhinelander logging truck driver supports DOT's roundabout proposal at Highways 8 and 47Submitted: 01/22/2018

Play Video
RHINELANDER - Ninety-eight thousand pounds rumbling down a road at 45 miles per hour don't exactly stop or turn on a dime.

"If you try to get around us, it's like chasing a train," truck driver Scott Schoeneck said.  "There's only going to be problems."

That's why Schoeneck, who owns his own logging truck company, takes it slow, especially approaching a specific intersection in Rhinelander.

"We're big and we take up two lanes fairly quickly," Schoeneck said.

Schoeneck, who has driven semi-trucks since 1989, drives through the Highway 8 and 47 intersection on Rhinelander's west side at least twice a day. He says a proposed roundabout there would be a welcome sight.

"When they're built correctly, they're a great traffic-flow asset," Schoeneck said of roundabouts. "When they're built too small, they become detrimental to what we do."

In early December, the Department of Transportation proposed upgrading the intersection with either a roundabout or offset turn lanes to help with safety and aging roadway. The DOT recorded 28 crashes between 2012 and 2016, including one crash where a woman died in 2013.

The DOT admits a roundabout comes with a learning curve for any driver, but DOT Project Development Supervisor Mike Wendt says newer roundabouts are designed with large trucks in mind.

"All of those standard loads would be able to transverse through this intersection," Wendt said. "It would be designed to accommodate them."

In addition to the roundabout, Wendt says the DOT's plans would make merging from Highway 8 east onto Highway 8/47 toward Crandon easier and safer.

"[Right now] you're at about a 60-degree angle where you really have to turn back to take a look at traffic that's coming," Wednt said. "We're going to bring them in straight and then that right turn movement will not need to transverse around the circle."

Wendt says the proposed Rhinelander roundabout -- if that's the option chosen -- could actually allow over-sized and over-weight loads (known as OSOW) to go through as well. Wendt says people shouldn't only think of semi-trucks as being able to easily get through the roundabout.

"(Recreational vehicles) pulling boats, you know large campers, [that] type of thing, that all needs to be taken into perspective when people are driving a roundabout," Wendt said.

The DOT held a public input session on the proposals in mid-december. Wednt says about 70 percent of people there supported a roundabout. Since then, the DOT has collected letters and emails of which, Wendt says, about 65 percent have been in support of the roundabout.

A roundabout would cost between $2 million and $2.5 million, while the offset left-turn lanes option would cost between $3 million and $3.6 million.

"Least costly of the alternatives," Wednt said of a roundabout. "However, we are taking a look at what we actually need for a grade change there."

Ultimately, the decision is the DOT's to make.  Wendt expects a decision to come by the end of January.  Schoeneck knows where his vote would fall, speaking in favor of the roundabout. He hopes Rhinelander gets several roundabouts in the future.

"If everybody just be patient with us, we'll be patient with them," Schoeneck said.

The Rhinelander City Council planned to discuss a letter from Public Works Director Tim Kingman during a special meeting Monday night. The letter voices the Council's support for the roundabout proposal, but would need the Council's approval before it's sent.  According to Alderman Alex Young, the council decided to take no action and not send the letter, opting to wait for the DOT's decision.

Once the DOT makes its pick, construction wouldn't start until 2019.

Story By: Lane Kimble

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
 Print Story Print Story | Email Story Email Story


Play Video

RHINELANDER - A 14-member jury saw a bullet found at the crime scene, heard a panicked 911 call from the victim, and listened to Donald Dal Ponte's daughter describe his injuries during the first day of Edwin Hughes' jury trial in Oneida County Court on Monday.

Hughes is charged with playing a role in a 2011 attempted robbery and shooting in Three Lakes.

On February 9, 2011, two people entered into Dal Ponte's Three Lakes home and demanded money from him, according to prosecutors. One held a gun to Dal Ponte's legs as an intimidation tactic, then shot him. Prosecutors say Hughes is that man.

+ Read More

EAGLE RIVER - Even with the snow falling down Monday, some people can't take a snow day.

Taxi drivers in the Northwoods can help people who can't drive make it to doctor's appointments, grocery stores and even lend a hand when their car breaks down.

Eagle River Taxi Service driver Kurt Schels says the snow is just another part of his job.

+ Read More

LINCOLN COUNTY - The DNR found a case of chronic wasting disease in Lincoln County.

A two-year-old buck harvested in northeastern Lincoln County, south of Rhinelander, tested positive for the deadly brain disease.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - The Oneida County Sheriff says that being in jail is a constant battle with boredom. Inmates can watch TV, play cards, and message their families but that's about it. Now, thanks to a new program, inmates can work towards getting a high school education.

The Oneida County jail recently paired up with Nicolet Technical College to create a GED certification program for some of its inmates. The program is designed to set inmates up for success once they are released from jail.

A teacher from Nicolet College comes to the jail four times a week for about an hour to teach nine state inmates. Although the program is open to county and state inmates, there are only state inmates involved at this time.

+ Read More
+ More Local News


MADISON - A Wisconsin tribe is suing the federal government in hopes of blocking a proposed gold mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Aquila Resources Inc. wants to dig the so-called Back Forty mine on the Menominee River but needs a state permit to fill wetlands.

+ Read More

MADISON - Several Wisconsin farmers organizations have joined a new coalition in support of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Wisconsin Public Radio reports that the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association and the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association have become part of the new Americans for Farmers and Families coalition.

+ Read More

MADISON - Falling out of a tree stand can be a real risk for hunters.

Spinal injuries make up more than half the injuries suffered in falls from tree stands.

Wisconsin Public Radio reports that a review of the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics' trauma database for tree stand-related injuries from 1999 to 2013 shows 55 percent resulted in one or more spinal injuries.

The review looked at 117 patients who were hurt.

+ Read More

MADISON (AP) - In a tack to the left in an election year, Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker says he wants a state law to guarantee people with pre-existing conditions don't lose health insurance.

He also wants Wisconsin to join Minnesota, Oregon, Hawaii and Alaska in obtaining a federal waiver to offer reinsurance. That is a move designed to lower premiums for people in the private insurance marketplace.

+ Read More
+ More Regional News

Click Here