River Hills — Despite opposition to a plan that would close the eastbound lane of Green Tree Road to through traffic, the River Hills Village Board on Nov. 18 decided to allow a six-month trial of the plan.
The eastbound lane of Green Tree will be barricaded at its intersection with River Road, but the village will allow access to emergency vehicles, school buses and likely refuse trucks and snow plows.
Citing speeding motorists and safety concerns following a fatal accident last spring, a group of residents on Green Tree Road between River and Jean Nicolet Road have pressured the board since July, first for fully closing the road and more recently for the half closure. The accident was due to a medical condition, but residents say they fear another accident because of speeding.
The city of Glendale and the Glendale-River Hills and Nicolet school districts have written letters opposing any closure and suggesting the village wait for the results of a traffic study commissioned by Glendale. Most acknowledge that the volume of traffic on Green Tree increased during the road work on nearby Good Hope Road over the last few months. The traffic study will include counts taken during and after the construction, which is winding down.
Glendale City Administrator Richard Maslowski said he expects to receive the results of the study the first week in December.
Rick Monroe, district administrator for the Nicolet School District, addressed the Village Board last week, asking it to consider the safety implications for students and others who will be forced to drive on congested Port Washington and Good Hope roads as a result of the half closure.
Nearby residents oppose move
Gilbert Church, a resident living on River Road, presented a petition to the board signed by about 21 residents who oppose the half closure.
Church spent some time watching the traffic before addressing the board and was surprised to find large trucks using the street.
"There was a semi from the food store and a dump truck hauling land moving equipment," he said. There is a sign prohibiting trucks on Green Tree Road at River Road, but there is not a similar sign at Green Tree and Jean Nicolet roads. He suggested placing one there to address the truck problem.
Church objected to the half closure, saying that forcing traffic onto busy Good Hope Road was a safety issue for those who would no longer have Green Tree Road access to the east.
"There has been a wonderful job of community organizing on Green Tree Road to represent the interests of Green Tree residents," he said. "The cost to the community at large far outweighs those interests."
Resident Paul Manley suggested Glendale could take some steps to mediate the situation by restricting parking on Green Tree Road from Port Washington Road to the Green Tree Road bridge over Interstate 43and by closing the shopping center driveways on Green Tree Road.
"It is more important to some people to get to stores and Nicolet than the safety of those (living) on Green Tree," he said. "I find that a morally indefensible position."
Residents will pay for closure
Village Manager Tom Tollakson said Village Engineer Bob Elkin would draw up the design for the intersection based on the suggestion of a traffic engineer hired by the residents. When Dean Road several years ago was closed at the request of residents, the village submitted a bill for the cost of the closure to those residents.
Tollakson expects to follow the same procedure for the trial half closure, submitting a bill to the residents covering the cost of barricades and signs, Elkin's work and the labor for installation. A deposit to cover the work would be required before the installation starts, he said.
Residents in the area will be notified along with fire and police departments prior to the commencement of the half closure.
Attorneys for Glendale and Nicolet discussed the village plan last week. The issue will be discussed in closed session at Common Council and School Board meetings scheduled for Monday night, after NOW's deadline.
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