Report on May public meeting for Division/Church corridor study

Last night, project staff for the Division/Church Corridor (Business 51) Study Project held their second public meeting. The purpose of this study is to consider design alternatives for lane alignments along the Division/Church corridor within the Stevens Point city limits. This study is being done in advance of the expected reconstruction of this corridor over several years, tentatively starting in 2016 but possibly later. See this PPSP blog post for more background on the project.

Yesterday’s meeting was very well attended with over 100 people present. The project staff had excellent poster displays covering the walls of the room.  For various segments of the corridor, these posters displayed current numbers for traffic volumes and right-of way geometries (including widths of travel lanes, medians, sidewalks, and other existing features). There was also aerial photography showing how the various proposed alternatives would situate on the current streetscape. These data and images are crucial for understanding the potential tradeoffs and for making informed suggestions about new alignments.

A presentation was given to describe preliminary alternatives for the corridor. These alternatives are starting points for evaluating tradeoffs as well as for identifying potential implementation alternatives on a block by block basis. The main alternatives provided include 2-lane and 4-lane options, each with either a raised center median (such as currently exists near NorthPoint Dr) or a center two-way left turn lane (such as currently exists between Fourth Ave and Maria Dr).

Features in the alternatives that are not currently present (or present to only a limited degree) along the corridor include terraces (grass strips between the road surface and the sidewalk) and bike lanes. In addition, the project wants to widen travel lanes to provide 12′ lanes for truck traffic. Currently in certain parts of the corridor, travel lanes are only 10′ wide.

In the areas of the corridor where the right-of-way width is constrained, adding a median,  widening lanes, and installing terraces and bike lanes pose a challenge. Lane reduction (from the current 4 lanes to 2) can provide some room for these features. If more width is needed, the city would have to acquire additional right-of-way from the property owners along the corridor. As would be expected, this possibility has raised a great deal of concern from home and business owners along the corridor, evidenced by many of the questions asked after the presentation.

The presentation touched on advantages and disadvantages of the preliminary alternatives. This overview demonstrated that there are no easy answers. The citizens and community leaders of Stevens Point will need to decide what is most important and what negative impacts can be tolerated in order to arrive at a reconfiguration of the Division/Church corridor that best suits the needs of the city and its residents.

People riding bicycles need a way to access businesses along this corridor, which are located primarily north of Fourth Ave and south of Patch St. Providing appropriate infrastructure for safe bicycling in these sections would satisfy this critical need. For Stevens Point to enhance its vibrancy in order to attract more people to visit and relocate here, quality infrastructure for bicycle and foot traffic in these sections is a requirement, not a luxury.

Between Fourth Ave and Patch St, having bike lanes is certainly desirable. Since this is the most width-constrained portion of the corridor and is primarily residential, other approaches for accommodating bicycle traffic is likely to be considered. Along this stretch of the corridor, a lower level of service for bicycle traffic can be tolerated.

Poky Pedalers should keep informed about this project and be sure to let the project staff know what sort of bicycle infrastructure you would like to see. There are sections of the corridor where it is clearly feasible to create no-drive buffers between the motor vehicle lanes and bike lanes. This sort of separated bike lane, if designed properly, can make bicycling to destinations along this corridor feel safe and comfortable.

On a sunny Green Circle bicycle ride along NorthPoint Dr en route from Schmeeckle Reserve to the Sculpture Park, wouldn’t you like a safe and comfortable bicycle lane along Division for a quick 1/4-mile detour to the soon-to-be-open Culver’s?

And after bicycling with your children to a Saturday matinee at the UWSP campus-area Rogers Cinema, how about a safe and comfortable way to bike over to Coldstone for a post-film ice cream treat?

These are the sorts of bicycling trips on the Division/Church corridor that our city needs to accommodate.

Stevens Point’s webpage about this project can be accessed through this link. Presentation slides from both the January meeting and last night’s meeting can be downloaded from that page. Many of the posters on display at last night’s meeting are not included among the presentation slides. Project staff said that they would make these posters available on the project website soon, and I’ll post something on the blog when that happens.

Comments from the public about the preliminary alternatives are being solicited. You can either send e-mail comments or written comments through the US Mail. The deadline for this round of comments is June 16.

If you want to e-mail your comments, send to both of the following:

  • Bruce Gerland, Consultant Project Manager, AECOM:
  • Scott Schatschneier, Director of Public Works, City of Stevens Point:

If you send through the US Mail, send to:

Bruce Gerland, PE
200 Indiana Avenue
Stevens Point, WI 54481

Project staff expects its next public meeting to take place in the fall. At that meeting, block-by-block detailed potential alternatives will be on display for consideration. They also mentioned that designs for some of the more crash-prone intersections would be proposed at that meeting.

A good way to keep track of what is going on with this project is to select Speak Your Poky from the menu bar above and select the Division/Church St Corridor Study. I will keep that page updated with the latest publicly available information and the ways you can express your opinions to project staff.

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