Description of location and poor transit access for Hoover overpass public meeting

In a recent post, I reported that the city of Stevens Point is holding a public meeting about building a separated grade crossing of the railroad tracks on Hoover Ave.

On the city’s website, directions to the meeting are given as follows: “Please use the Woodward Drive entrance (past the guard shack) to access the building from the parking lot.”

I used Google Maps to find where Woodward Dr is, and what I found on Google Maps confused me. I was aware of a guard shack on one roadway, but Google Maps was telling me that Woodward Dr was the roadway just north of that.

In today’s pleasant sunny weather, I happened to ride out to that area and decided to see what it looks like on the street. Based on what I saw, I believe Google Maps is identifying Woodward Dr incorrectly. In fact, Google Maps doesn’t even show the roadway whose streets signs identify it as Woodward Dr.

There is an eastbound roadway immediately north of the railroad tracks on Hoover Ave which is clearly marked by a street sign as Woodward Dr. This is the roadway that did not appear on Google Maps. A sign there identifies Spectra Print, where the meeting is being held. There is also an unmistakable guard shack that is plainly visible a stone’s throw from Hoover Ave.

Continuing past the guard shack, I came to a parking lot to my left. The obvious entrance to the building in that area does not identify Spectra Print. Instead it identifies an accounting firm. But there was no other entrance to the building that I could find in that area, so I am guessing that one can access the meeting from that entrance. Based on today’s exploration, this is a plausible guess.

I also explored the roadway that Google Maps identified as Woodward Dr, which is the next eastbound roadway to the north. It has no street signs identifying it. There is also a sign at that location identifying Spectra Print. That street ends in a circular loop right in front of the building. No guard shack appears along this street. A sign identifies this as the customer entrance for Spectra Print. There are only a handful of parking spaces around there, far too few for the expected crowd for a city public meeting.

It seems very plausible that Google Maps is in error based on the parking layout and the directions on the city website. Based on all this information, it seems one should turn at the roadway immediately north of the railroad tracks, pass the guard shack, and enter at that door where the accounting firm is identified. I have a feeling this entrance is the employee entrance for Spectra Print, even if it isn’t identified there.

For those who are driving to the meeting, any confusion in the location would get resolved quickly. For those who are bicycling to the meeting, the distances involved take longer to cover, so it is helpful to have better information on where to turn.

But for those taking public transit to the meeting, it is critical to know where the correct roadway is, because you are in for a moderately long walk. And to catch a bus back, it will be a much longer walk.

To get to the meeting using Stevens Point Transit, you need to catch an Eastside/Crossroads bus (the yellow line on this map) that is scheduled to arrive at Hoover Ave and Industrial Park Rd at either 4:30 PM or 5:30 PM. (The public meeting runs from 5:30 – 7:30 PM.) From that location, it is a roughly a half-mile walk to the correct entrance (the accounting firm’s entrance). If that were the worst of it, it would be a tolerable walk for many but prohibitive for some.

The worse issue is catching a bus after the meeting. The daytime routes do not run to that area past 5:30 PM. Instead, you have to catch a Late Night Transit bus. The closest such bus to the meeting, the Campus Shopping route (the yellow line on this map), runs on Main St/Hwy 10. That walk is about a mile.

But it gets even worse. There is no bus stop at the intersection of Country Club Dr (the extension of Hoover to the north) and Main/Hwy 10. The closest bus stops on Main/Hwy 10 are another half-mile away in either direction.

So to catch a bus back, it is a mile-and-a-half walk to a bus stop. This is prohibitively far to walk for most people. (By the way, if you think you can shorten that walk by flagging a bus down at Country Club, I confirmed with the travel trainer at Stevens Point Transit that busses will only stop for you at designated bus stops.)

It is extremely unfortunate that the city chose a location for a public meeting about this separated grade crossing that has such poor transit access. Bicycling and walking access for this crossing and for connecting to nearby streets are important to people who do not drive. These people deserve the same opportunity as other citizens to learn about this project, speak with the project engineers, and participate in the conversations taking place at the public meeting in order to influence how bicycling and walking are treated in the final design.

I hope that for any future public meetings about this project (and any other public meetings for that matter), the city chooses a location reasonably accessible by all residents, regardless of the mode of transportation they rely on.

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