October status update on the Division/Church Corridor Study project

After the recent Division/Church Corridor Study presentation at the Board of Public Works this past Monday and subsequent front page articles in both the Stevens Point Journal and the Portage County Gazette reporting on this presentation, this seems to be a good time to give Poky Pedalers a status update on this project.

Project activity prior to this week
This project is a long-range planning effort to make improvements on this corridor within the Stevens Point city limits in a number of areas: safety (high crash rates), pavement deterioration, geometries (lane width issues), bicycle and foot traffic accommodations, and aesthetics. More background on the purpose of this project can be found in this post reporting on the first public meeting in January.

At the second public meeting in May, several alternative concepts for the corridor were presented. These were starting points as a means to progress to detailed block-by-block design alternatives for the corridor.

Project staff has now created such detailed block-by-block design alternatives. In many places along the corridor there are multiple options to select among. Project staff is still open to modifications based on public feedback.

A few weeks ago, several by-invitation open houses were held for project stakeholders, generally meaning people living along the corridor or who have other particular interest in the project. I was invited due to my demonstrated interest in bicycle accommodations along the corridor. As a result, I had the opportunity to examine the latest set of design alternatives. Last week, I sent comments to project staff with my reaction to the bicycle accommodations included in these designs. You can read those comments here.

October Board of Public Works meeting this past Monday
At the Board of Public Works meeting on Monday October 14, an overview of the project was given: recap of past activity, current status, and next steps. The same design alternatives from the stakeholder open houses were presented, highlighting key features of the options. This meeting was open to the public, although comments were limited to members of the board and city alderpersons.

The October Board of Public Works meeting was quite interesting. Alderpersons and board members had many comments and questions about the presentation, which provided lively dialog with the AECOM project engineers and with Scott Schatschneider, Director of Public Works for Stevens Point. The discussion was extremely constructive. Even though there were a number of critical comments about some fundamental aspects of the design alternatives, all commenters seemed willing to keep an open mind and learn more about the benefits and tradeoffs.

A video of the October Board of Public Works meeting is available on the city website and can be accessed from this webpage. To find this video, scroll down the box that fills the upper half of that page until you find the Public Works videos. Then click on the ‘Video’ link for the Oct 14, 2013 meeting. The video is 79 minutes long. The first few agenda items go by fairly quickly – I would guess the first 10 minutes or so – and then the remainder of the video is the Division/Church project presentation.

All materials presented are available on the City of Stevens Point website under Public Works -> Road Construction -> Business 51. This page can be directly accessed here. From this page, Poky Pedalers can access all PDFs from the the recent Public Works meeting as well as the two public information meetings from January and May. For the PDFs and video specific to the October Board of Public Works meeting, you can select the ‘Round 2 – Detailed Alternatives’ and ‘Video – Traffic Simulations’ links from that page, or you can access all these PDFs and the video file from this page.

Summary of my reaction to current design alternatives
I have a positive impression about many of the features I saw in the design alternatives that will create a safer and more comfortable environment for people riding bicycles. These features include the following:

  • Minimum 5 foot bike lanes on almost all of the corridor;
  • Buffered bike lanes between NorthPoint Dr and Maria Dr ;
  • Realignment of Rice St to make a direct crossing to Whiting Ave;
  • Option to realign Patch St to make direct crossing to Francis St;
  • Roundabout at Northpoint.

However, there are several features I noticed that I am concerned about:

  • Create a bicycle cut-through in the Division St raised median for crossing Ellis St;
  • Create a buffer between the bike lane and the standard traffic lane on the section travelling under the railroad bridge between Madison St and Patch St;
  • Create a buffered bike lane on Church St south of Heffron St;
  • Sharrow problematic between Main St and Clark St;
  • Concern about intersection of Fourth Ave and Division St;
  • Desire to see treatments such as bike boxes and other green paint opportunities.

This is a summary of the comments I sent to project staff last week. Read the full letter for more details about each of these items.

Next Steps
In the Director’s Report in the October 14 meeting packet, there is the following statement about the Division/Church Corridor Study: A Public Informational Meeting is being scheduled for Wednesday, November 20th at Jefferson Elementary [1800 East Ave] starting at 5:30 PM.

From talking to project staff, I learned that they want to incorporate changes resulting from the stakeholder conversations a few weeks ago before holding the next public meeting. This is the reason for the time gap between the recent Board of Public Works meeting and this Public Informational Meeting.

I expect this public meeting to be conducted along similar lines as the previous two public meetings: walls covered with design alternatives and other information, a presentation, and opportunities to ask questions of and make comments to the project staff.

The public meeting itself has not yet been officially announced on the city website. I recommend that Poky Pedalers either check this page or the city website to get confirmation on the schedule and location for this public meeting.

More info
Poky Pedalers can stay up-to-date on what’s happening with this project by checking the  Division/Church St Corridor Study page under the Speak Your Poky item in the menu bar. That is the best place to look for info such as when and where upcoming meetings will be, links to documents from past meetings, and links to all PPSP posts about the project.

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