Hodag Festival traffic: take note of this year's detours

Hodag Park sign. PHOTO: WXPR
Hodag Park sign. PHOTO: WXPR

RHINELANDER, WI (WSAU) -- Country music fans will need to exercise some patience when making plans to get to the 2019 Hodag Festival in Rhinelander thanks to three major road projects near the grounds.

"The [intersection] of Highway 8 and 47 is getting changed to a roundabout, and there's a good portion of Stevens Street that is closed due to construction," said Patrol Captain Tyler Young with the Oneida County Sheriff's Office.

He says the plan is to detour traffic to Highway 17 and Stevens Street, where they will be able to turn towards the grounds via River Road. In order to accommodate that traffic, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation will be re-timing the stoplight to extend the protected left-turn arrow from 20 seconds to 40.

Additionally, detour signs will be posted from both Hodag organizers and the DOT beginning on Tuesday.

One of the main reasons for the recommended detour is the type of traffic that hodag brings. Young says if high-profile vehicles such as campers or travel trailers end up going through the city, they could end up in a bad situation.

"Those are tight streets with vehicles parked on the street, so it's pretty hard to get that kind of traffic through the City of Rhinelander," Young recommends anyone navigating the detours to slow down and be patient, allowing for plenty of time for traffic to clear and for adequate stopping distance in the event that conditions change at a moment's notice.

Young says the problem will be an ongoing issue through Hodag 2021, and next year's event could be even worse because other portions of Stevens Street won't be available for traffic due to the next phase of the project. "You don't know where the construction will be or how far they will have progressed. It's weather dependent, and we foresee this being an issue again next year."

Young adds the roundabout at the intersection of Highways 8 and 47 will be completed by next year's event.

A copy of the official detour map can be found by clicking on the PDF at the top of this story. The information has also been uploaded to the DOT's 511WI website.