2/25/13 Letter from PPSP to Division/Church Study Project Staff

This is Bob Fisch from Poky Pedaling Stevens Point. I am writing to offer comments regarding the Division/Church Business 51 Improvement Study. This e-mail is the fourth of several I have sent – about one per week – before the February 28 date you indicate on the comment form distributed at the public information meeting of January 22.

In this e-mail, I want to make several requests regarding the information to be made available at the next Division/Church Corridor Study public meeting.

During the first public meeting, you mentioned the statistic of 42 crashes involving either bicycle (31) or foot (11) traffic over a 5-year period. This information is also stated in the project overview handout available on the Stevens Point website. It would be useful to see diagrams similar to the one on page 2 of the handout showing where crashes involving someone bicycling or walking occur (one diagram for each). If you have comparisons to state averages for such bicycle/foot traffic crash rates (similar to what you have for all vehicle crashes), that would be even better.

It would notable if, for example, a moderate yellow circle for all vehicles might be one of the most common locations for crashes involving bicycles. Because this type of discovery might boost an intersection’s priority for deserving safety treatments, I hope you can provide this information at the next public meeting.

At any location in the Division/Church corridor, a fundamental constraint is the width of the existing right-of-way. In the implementation of sidewalks, bicycle facilities, standard traffic lanes, turning lanes, center islands/refuges, and so on, one foot given to any of these is one foot taken away from another.

In anticipation of the first public meeting, I expected to see cross-sectional diagrams of the existing roadway in select spots – perhaps one each from between Maria and Fourth, between Ellis and Dixon, between Patch and Rice, and between Heffron and Nebel. Each cross section would show the existing lane configuration (including sidewalks), the width of each element in the cross section, and the total curb-to-curb and right-of-way widths.

I was disappointed to discover that no such cross-sectional diagrams were offered at the first public meeting.

My understanding is that at the next public meeting, project staff will propose some possibilities for the reconstruction of the Division/Church corridor. I ask that these proposals provide a level of cross-sectional detail similar to what I mention above. Cross-sectional information on the current alignment of the corridor (if not otherwise included in the proposed alignments) would also be helpful.

In order to make intelligent comments about implementable options for this corridor, we citizens need to know this basic data. Furthermore, I know that acquiring additional right-of-way from private landowners along the corridor is on the table and is likely to be contentious. Having clear data on the current right-of-way and proposed reconfigurations is necessary to evaluate any benefit of such private land acquisition.

I also request that traffic counts be provided. I wish to see counts both at various locations along the corridor as well as along key crossing streets, including those associated with high crash counts. Since your designs need to work for the busiest part of the day, peak-hour counts would probably be more useful than daily counts. (I presume you already have such count data.) In discussions about the reconfiguration proposals, these counts will be useful for understanding your constraints.

I want to thank you for organizing the public meetings for the Division/Church Corridor Study. The choices made in reconstructing this corridor will have considerable impact on Stevens Point. It is both appropriate and essential to solicit public opinion so that these choices enhance the future city our citizens want to live in.

At the first public meeting, your presentation and visual aids did a good job at communicating the reasons why this reconstruction project needs to take place. There was mention that comment forms were available and that opinions about this project could be e-mailed or U.S.-mailed to project staff.

Unfortunately, this request for comments was mentioned in passing and was easily lost in the broader presentation. There was certainly no emphasis or enthusiastic encouragement on your part regarding the opportunity for the public to submit comments.

The webpage regarding this project on the City of Stevens Point website does not prominently solicit comments or indicate where to send them. Information about sending comments can only be found by downloading the project overview PDF from that webpage and scrolling to the end of the fourth page. This is not a prominent location.

I have seen no information in either local paper soliciting comments about this project, aside from my own letter to the editor. (Please forgive me if you did submit such information to the local papers and I overlooked it).

As discussed in a recent column in the Stevens Point Journal, the reconfiguration of the Division/Church corridor is more than simply-another-road-project. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to significantly change this corridor merits heightened efforts on the part of project staff to identify what a broad range of Stevens Point residents want to see implemented.

At the next and all future public meetings, I ask you to do better at letting citizens know how to contribute their opinions about this project.

Thank you for taking the time to read my comments. I hope you are able to incorporate my suggestions into your preparations for the next public meeting about the Division/Church Corridor Study.

Bob Fisch
Poky Pedaling Stevens Point