A few updates on bicycle issues discussed at recent city meetings

There have been a few items deliberated at city meetings over the past few weeks that are related to bicycling in Stevens Point. I will briefly mention these below.

Angle parking on Ellis St and the effect on the signed bicycle route
In a recent post, I discussed the possibility that Stevens Point would create angle parking on Ellis St on the block between Church St and Strongs Ave in order to provide more parking for employees of Sentry Insurance. To accomplish this, that block of Ellis would be designated one-way westbound. Ellis is currently a signed bicycle route, and this would create a one-block gap for eastbound bicycle riders using that route.

ellis one way map agenda

Stevens Point approved this plan to make Ellis one-way westbound between Church and Strongs, thereby creating a new gap in our signed bicycle network

At the Board of Public Works meeting of January 11, the Board voted unanimously to change city ordinances to make Ellis one-way on that block. Then on January 18, Common Council unanimously confirmed the decision of the Board of Public Works. This means that in the near future, we can expect to see signs indicating that Ellis St is one-way westbound between Church and Strongs.

As for the signed bicycle route, no official action was taken to specify how the city would address the new gap. At the Board of Pubic Works meeting, Third District Ald Garrett Ryan stated that he had talked with city staff about the possibility of putting new signage up to direct bicycle riders on a route around this new gap. Public Works Director Scott Schatschneider stated that decisions for installing such new signage for people bicycling would be handled internally by city staff.

Vacancy filled on the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee
In early December, I reported that the city announced a vacancy on the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. At the Common Council meeting of January 18, Maud LaMarche was unanimously confirmed to fill that vacancy.

In her comments to Council, LaMarche stated that she has been bicycling and walking for most of her transportation in Stevens Point for 25 years. To me, those sound like good credentials for representing Poky Pedalers on the BPAC. LaMarche participated in her first BPAC meeting this morning.

Stevens Point to apply for grant for implementing bike lanes
Over the past few months, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee has been putting together a Transportation Alternatives Program grant application to fund the striping of bike lanes, sharrows, and similar bicycle infrastructure on more than 13 miles of Stevens Point city streets.

TAP grant map pre-app

A portion of the map showing streets (heavy dark lines) proposed for new bicycle infrastructure in a TAP grant application discussed during the Stevens Point Finance Committee

The specific streets chosen include a collection of moderately busy streets near downtown such as Second St, Michigan Ave, Jefferson St, and W Clark St. The choice of streets and types of bicycle infrastructure included in this grant application was generally guided by recommendations from the Portage County Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan adopted by Stevens Point Common Council in September.

TAP is a federal program that is administered by the state for funding infrastructure projects supporting bicycling, walking, and transit. For grant applications that are approved, federal funds will cover 80% of the project costs. The local match, meaning the portion that Stevens Point would have to cover, is only 20%. Obviously, these competitive TAP grants are a good deal.

The proposed bike infrastructure striping project is estimated to cost roughly $450,000. If the city’s TAP grant application is approved, the city would only have to contribute about $90,000 of project expenses. Design work would start in 2017, and implementation of the new bicycle infrastructure would occur in 2019.

At the Stevens Point Finance Committee meeting of January 11, there was discussion to authorize submittal of this TAP grant application. Implicit in this authorization is a commitment to spend the local match of approximately $90,000 if the grant application is approved. This latter issue is why the application was discussed at the Finance Committee.

The Finance Committee voted unanimously to authorize submittal of this TAP grant. One week later, Common Council unanimously confirmed this decision by the Finance Committee.

At this morning’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee meeting, an update on the TAP grant application status indicated that final tweaks were being made and that the application should be submitted early next week, a few days ahead of the January 29 deadline. According to their website, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation will announce the TAP award winners for our state in late summer of 2016.


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