I want to give a few updates on the project to build either an overpass or underpass on Hoover Ave to eliminate the at-grade crossing of the railroad tracks near Industrial Park Dr. My report on the May 6 public meeting about this project gives a great deal of context.
Hoover project documents and maps now available online
The city of Stevens Point recently posted on its website the documents and maps presented at the May 6 public meeting. These include the handout available at the meeting, the slides from the presentation, and the detailed maps that were on display.
On the PPSP webpage for the Hoover project, I provide links to all these documents on the city website. I also specify how to interpret the maps and diagrams that are part of these documents. Some of the markings on these maps and diagrams are difficult to understand without a bit of explanation. Since a clear explanation is lacking in the documents themselves, I wrote up a few notes about this on the PPSP Hoover project webpage.
Now that the city has made these project maps and diagrams available, explanations in my blog post about the May 6 meeting may be a bit easier to follow.
Public comments on May 6 meeting due Tuesday
Tuesday May 20 is the deadline for sending comments to project staff regarding information presented at the May 6 public meeting. Now that all the meeting materials are available on the city website, Poky Pedalers who did not attend the meeting can more clearly learn about the scope of this project and provide good feedback about the bicycle accommodations you want to see implemented.
The PPSP webpage for the Hoover project contains the e-mail and US mail addresses for both Kevin Hagen of AECOM and Scott Schatschneider, Director of Public Works for the City of Stevens Point. All comments should be sent to both of these people.
Formal decision to prioritize Hoover project
At the May 12 Board of Public Works meeting, it was recommended that the city shift its road construction priorities away from the Division/Church project and towards the Hoover project. This recommendation will be taken up at the May 19 Common Council meeting. An agenda item for the May 19 meeting states, “Changing the City’s infrastructure focus from the Business 51 [Division/Church] Project to the Hoover Road/Country Club Drive Grade Separation Project.”
Also on the agenda for the May 19 meeting is the following: “Selecting an overpass with earthen slopes as the Preferred Alternative for the Hoover Road/Country Club Drive Grade Separation Project.” I am a bit surprised to see this on the agenda as the public comment period after the May 6 meeting has not yet ended.
I fully expect the overpass with sloped ground option to eventually be selected by the city for the Hoover project because it seems to be the only option the city can afford. Nevertheless, seeing this on the agenda prior to the end of the public comment period from the May 6 public meeting is unexpected.
Next steps for Division/Church project
A decision to prioritize the Hoover project leaves some loose ends in the near-term for the Division/Church project. I wrote about these issues in a blog post anticipating the May 12 Board of Public Works meeting.
In a blog post next week, I will have more to say about the portion of the May 12 meeting pertinent to the Division/Church project. For now I want to point out that some key decisions about this project are expected to be taken up at the June Board of Public Works meeting.
These decisions center around two questions.
- (1) Even if the Division/Church corridor reconstruction is delayed, should the city take action to perform a ‘maintenance’ resurfacing to deal with the current poor surface conditions?
At the May 12 Public Works meeting, an option was mentioned to mill off a shallow part of the existing surface and to overlay a new surface. This temporary measure is expected to provide a suitable travel surface for 7-10 years. Since this is a ‘maintenance’ treatment rather than a reconstruction, federal and state laws permit the current lane striping to be repainted upon the new surface. A rough estimate given for this option during the May 12 meeting was several hundred thousand dollars.
- (2) Should the city instruct AECOM to complete the contracted environmental assessment and 30% design?
Any reconstruction of Division/Church, whether it happens near-term or 10 years from now, will need a completed environmental assessment to qualify for federal and state funding. At the May 12 meeting, it was stated that $450,000 had been paid to date to AECOM on this contract, and that completion of the contract would cost an additional $300,000. If the city chooses to terminate this contract with AECOM, then the $300,000 could be spent towards the Hoover project. However, this would also mean that the $450,000 spent to date would be wasted, since a future environmental assessment effort would have to start over.
The controversy over completing the current contract with AECOM stems from a notion to which some alderpersons continue to cling that a road diet on the narrowest portions of the Division/Church corridor will be inadequate for handing traffic flow.
All data and experience gathered by experts at federal and state departments of transportation clearly indicate that projected traffic volumes for the Division/Church corridor fall well below any threshold for unreasonable congestion.
Stevens Point is not a vanguard for this sort of road diet. Thousands of similar highway projects have been completed across the US over the past few decades resulting in improved streetscapes while still providing functional roads, despite frequent pre-construction predictions of gridlock.
Continuing the contract with AECOM would be an easy decision to make for objective decision makers. Unfortunately, the fear of change exhibited by some of our alderpersons clouds their objectivity.
At the May 12 meeting, the Board of Public Works authorized the Division/Church project staff – the Mayor, the Director of Public Works, and AECOM – to prepare and present details about “next step” options for answering the above questions at the June Board of Public Works meeting.
It is worth noting that the May 19 Common Council meeting has no agenda items pertaining to these issues affecting the Division/Church corridor. However the June Common Council meeting, expected to occur a week after the June Board of Public Works meeting, may be making final decisions on these questions.
Speak Your Poky
As always, I will keep Poky Pedalers up-to-date on the progress of these two projects, particularly with regard to their bicycle accommodations. PPSP webpages for both the Hoover and Division/Church projects are available under the Speak Your Poky menu. These are your best resources for keeping track of new developments and for finding out how to express your opinions to project staff.
Staying informed and voicing your opinions are the best ways for Poky Pedalers to exert your influence to ensure that quality bicycle accommodations are designed into these projects.
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