The Village of Whiting has engaged in much recent discussion regarding the possibility of implementing traffic calming measures on McDill Ave, which is also County Highway HH. A no-cost opportunity to restripe McDill/HH is available this summer because Portage County is resurfacing this street. The cost of this project is the same regardless of the specific striping pattern put down on the new asphalt.
The portion of McDill/HH that passes through Whiting is mostly residential with a posted speed limit of 25 MPH. There are two notable crossings that attract much non-motorized traffic: the intersection with School St, which is a key foot and bicycle traffic crossing for students of McDill Elementary School who live north of McDill/HH, and the intersection with the Green Circle Trail, which sees a lot of foot and bicycle traffic traveling through the scenic forested stretches immediately north and south of McDill/HH.
McDill/HH between Post Rd and Hoover Ave is striped with two standard travel lanes in each direction. This sort of design tends to give the impression to those driving that this stretch is more like a highway than a neighborhood street. As a result, vehicles often travel at over 40 MPH. These excessive speeds are hazardous for those crossing by foot and bicycle. Furthermore, according to a petition circulated by one Whiting resident, the fast-moving traffic creates noise issues for those living along this street.
The Portage County Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan recommends that this portion of McDill/HH be restriped to a 3-lane configuration with one standard travel lane in each direction and a center two-way right turn lane. This reconfiguration would not only help curtail excessive speeding, but it would also enable bicycle lane accommodations within the existing curb-to-curb width.
The Stevens Point Journal published an excellent column by Neil Prendergast discussing of the benefits of this sort of traffic calming reconfiguration for McDill/HH. You can read his column online here or in the Saturday May 21 print version of the paper.
On Tuesday May 24, the Village of Whiting is holding a public hearing to discuss how McDill/HH should be striped at the conclusion of the county’s resurfacing project. This public hearing will be the first item of business at the Whiting Public Works and Parks Committee meeting starting at 5:30 PM. The meeting will take place in the Whiting Municipal Center (3600 Water St in the Village of Whiting). All members of the public, including both Whiting residents as well as those living in other municipalities, are welcome to attend and speak at this public hearing.
The meeting agenda indicates that Portage County Highway Commissioner Nathan Check will be present to talk about the resurfacing project. I suspect he will also offer technical information about how the 3-lane reconfiguration recommended by the bike/ped plan would function on the street.
The meeting agenda states that after the public hearing, the Whiting Public Works and Parks Committee will deliberate on the configuration options for McDill/HH. Later in the meeting, the committee will also discuss options for improving safety at the crossings at School St and the Green Circle Trail. Any action by this committee will then be considered by the Whiting Village Board, probably at its next meeting that should take place on June 14.
For more information about the issues surrounding any decision to reconfigure McDill/HH, including pertinent jurisdictional issues, you can read this PPSP blog post that reported on the April Whiting Public Works and Parks Committee meeting.
How McDill/HH is striped upon completion of the resurfacing project will affect bicycle access along McDill/HH as well as bicycle and walking safety across McDill/HH for all users of this corridor, regardless of where they live. This public hearing will likely be the best opportunity for officials of both the Village of Whiting and Portage County to hear opinions from all interested individuals about how McDill/HH should be configured. I encourage all Poky Pedalers attend this meeting and Speak Your Poky on this matter.