Last night, the Stevens Point Common Council was faced with the decision to either continue or terminate the contract with AECOM for performing the environmental assessment and 30% design for the Division/Church corridor project.
By a vote of 8-1 with 2 absent, the council overwhelmingly voted to continue with the Division/Church project.
The process of choosing a preferred alternative for the corridor became bogged down after a contentious public meeting in November of 2013. Since that time, the city has been struggling to identify how to constructively move the project forward.
There have been a few important developments since that November meeting. One is that the city decided to deprioritize the Division/Church project in order to build an overpass over the railroad tracks crossing Hoover Ave just north of Industrial Park Dr. According to city officials, this will delay the start of construction on Division/Church by approximately 10 years. With this delay, there will be more time available to consider concerns of the numerous stakeholders on Division/Church. Extra time will help to arrive at consensus regarding the appropriate tradeoffs for this highly constrained corridor.
Another important development is the unequivocal realization that there are no available exceptions to federal and state laws mandating accommodations for freight, bicycle, and foot traffic. The city may not legally heed any calls to retain the current cross-section after the reconstruction, since it fails to meet the required standards for any of these three sets of road users.
That this vote passed with a large majority among the Common Council demonstrates that our alderpersons acknowledge the importance of moving this project forward despite the controversy that surrounds it.
Project staff will now essentially restart the process from where it was halted after that November public meeting. This may not be an easy task, considering the hostility expressed by some at that meeting.
Poky Pedalers can refresh their memories about where things stood with this project last November by reviewing the presentation slides and the handout from that meeting. More information can be found on the PPSP webpage for the Division/Church project under the Speak Your Poky menu.
Hopefully, all citizens have acquired a better understanding of the need to find balance in this project. Instead of fighting for the inequitable status quo, we need all stakeholders to acknowledge the current inequity, to show willingness to compromise, to be objective in assessing expert analysis, and to earnestly seek solutions to issues caused by the undeniable constraints project staff must address.
This level of constructive discussion has often been lacking at past public forums. The best path to a balanced preferred alternative is to respectfully negotiate in order to find acceptable compromises that benefit all users of the Division/Church corridor.
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