5/18/14 Letter from PPSP to Hoover project staff

This is Bob Fisch from Poky Pedaling Stevens Point. I am writing to offer comments regarding the Hoover Road Rail Grade Separation project. This e-mail is the second I have sent and was composed after the public information meeting of May 6 and before the May 20 deadline you indicate on the comment form distributed at that meeting.

I wanted to add one thought to the first set of comments I recently sent to you about this project. I also want to propose another idea that can help with funding the bicycle accommodations for this project.

Comment about ramp to multi-use path on west side of overpass
In my previous set of comments, I spoke of my desire to see the multi-use path (MUP) be put on the west side of the overpass, and I outlined how to build a connection from Joerns Dr to that path.

Now that aerial maps and elevation diagrams of the proposed designs from the May 6 public meeting are available online, I see that 300’ may be insufficient to slope a ramp for bicycling and walking from ground level just south of the railroad tracks to the MUP on the west side of the overpass.

The thought I want to add here is that the elevation gain for the MUP does not have to begin after the path from Joerns Dr has cleared the overpass span. The MUP as it passes under the overpass can slope to start the elevation gain before clearing the span. And if necessary, the elevation gain can start even further east along the path from Joerns Dr.

My point here is that insufficient length along the retaining wall on the west side of the overpass south of the tracks is not a barrier to providing an underpass and ramp for bicycling and walking traffic to travel from Joerns Dr to a MUP on the west side of the overpass.

Looking more broadly at bicycle accommodations and related funding opportunities
As I mentioned in my previous set of comments, Mayor Halverson stated at the May 6 meeting that a MUP on the west side of Country Club Dr connecting to Main St/Hwy 10 is likely in the future. (By the way, I discovered that I was mistaken about jurisdictional boundaries on the west side of Country Club Dr in my earlier comments. I now see that Stevens Point Country Club is in the Town of Hull.) My comment here is to suggest accelerating the timeline for creating such an MUP to coincide with this Hoover project.

There are currently excellent MUPs on the south side of Main St/Hwy 10 along Iverson Park and on the west side of Hoover Ave between Industrial Park Dr and the southern portion of the Village of Plover near Pacawa Park. Connecting these MUPs with a new MUP along the west side of the overpass and continuing west along Country Club Dr would be an important and high quality link to our regional bicycle network. The nearby connections to the Heartland Trail along Patch St/Industrial Park Dr, and Joerns Dr only enhance the importance of such a new MUP on the west side of the overpass and continuing along Country Club Dr.

The new connectivity resulting from building such a MUP makes it an excellent candidate for Transportation Alternatives funding (or whatever that program turns into in the transportation bill being negotiated in Congress). I believe that one important criterion for such grants is how well the project creates new connectivity in the existing bicycle network. The new network connectivity from a MUP along the west side of the overpass and along the west side of Country Club Dr would undoubtedly score extremely high marks on this criterion.

The TA funding could support not only the construction of the MUP along Country Club Dr, but also the MUP on the overpass, the ramp up to the MUP along the retaining wall south of the tracks, and the path below the overpass connecting to Joerns Dr. I do not know the specifics of how components count as new connectivity, considering the existing MUP along the east side of Hoover connecting Industrial Park Dr to Joerns Dr, but it seems prudent to investigate whether all of this new construction might be eligible for TA funding.

Obviously, land for siting the MUP along Country Club Dr is necessary. One idea is to negotiate an easement with the Stevens Point Country Club for situating the path parallel to the road. This approach would likely be less expensive than trying to purchase land from the Stevens Point Country Club to create the needed right of way.

As for connecting to the MUP along Main St/Hwy 10, there are two options.

One is to continue the MUP north along Country Club Dr beside the La Quinta to the intersection. Country Club Dr seems wide enough here that there should be room to extend the curb a few feet for providing this MUP.

The second option would be to route the MUP west along the northern edge of the Stevens Point Country Club into Iverson Park. At that point, the MUP could run north along the service drive that connects to Main St/Hwy 10 just west of the Hilltop Restaurant. Of course, more easement from the Stevens Point Country Club would need to be negotiated in this case, and it may need to include a fence or other barrier to dissuade MUP users from accessing the Country Club grounds. The benefits of this second option is that it would be a more scenic path and would avoid several driveway hazards (these driveways provide access to the Hilltop and to La Quinta).

I hope you embrace the idea of a project in the same timeframe as the Hoover project that builds a new MUP along Country Club Dr connecting to the existing MUP along Main St/Hwy 10. And I hope you really embrace the idea of applying for TA funding to fund both this MUP and the bicycle accommodations that are part of the Hoover project.

Thank you for taking the time to read my comments. I hope you are able to incorporate my suggestions into your next round of designs for the Hoover Road Rail Separation Project.

Bob Fisch
Poky Pedaling Stevens Point