Oak Creek — Traffic patterns on Howell Avenue will be changing with the construction of Drexel Town Square.
Medians will be removed and traffic lights and turn lanes will be added, all to regulate traffic on the busy road that saw its fair share of accidents in 2013, especially at the intersection with Drexel Avenue.
There were 17 reported accidents — four of which resulted in injury — at the intersection last year. Those numbers don't take into account any accident not reported to police.
Police Chief John Edwards said he wasn't prepared to speak to whether the number was particularly high, compared to other places in the city, but he said he has heard from officers that there was a high number of accidents in the area.
The number of accidents, he said, has nothing to do with popular businesses like Woodman's being in the area. The medians are the problem.
"We do monitor that area, but the problem with a lot of them is they are fender-benders, where people try to zip across," he added. "We can't do much unless we stood someone out there and directed traffic flow."
The problem was worse, he said, when construction on Interstate-94 directed traffic onto the roads.
The future changes to Howell Avenue were designed after a traffic safety and impact analysis showed dangerous areas on Howell Avenue, Janet Cannon, state Department of Transportation project manager said.
Along with a full resurfacing of the road from Oakwood Avenue to the northern limits of Oak Creek, the DOT will close the medians at the driveway to Sonic, 8081 S. Howell Ave., and at the driveway to Guardian Credit Union, 7801 S. Howell Ave. The median directly north of the credit union will have turn lanes added.
The driveways and access roads to all businesses affected by the median closures will remain open.
The entrance to Drexel Town Square at Susan Avenue will be widened, with turn lanes added. The intersection will be fully signaled.
The median at Oakfield Drive, leading to Ace Hardware, will be closed for vehicles attempting to cross Howell. There will still be the option for vehicles traveling on Howell to make left turns.
While there are no definite timetables set for the project because it is still being bid to contractors, Cannon said it should be completed this year. A public information session about the changes will be held in May.
During construction, Cannon predicted, there will be few lane closures and Howell Avenue will always remain open to traffic.
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