Hello everyone. It’s time for another Quest for Transparency update for the 2nd District to keep you informed about city plans.
An item showed up on the agenda for the Committee of the Whole (COW) last week. It pertains primarily to those people who live on Dodge Street between Baumeister and Kilbourn. The previous council approved a resolution to reconstruct the water, sewer, and storm sewer lines, curbs and gutters as well as asphalt street pavement. I had heard that the city was gradually replacing old infrastructure, so this was not new to me.
But the city’s vendor engineering firm priced out street widening for the blocks from Baumeister to Lincoln. And this engineering firm also suggested adding bike lanes on both sides of the street for the entire project, thereby eliminating parking on either side of Dodge. This engineer quoted that bike lanes would add up to $75,000 to the project, and remarked that cost would be a “drop in the bucket”. I thought that his drop in the bucket comment certainly did not go with my campaign promise of spending the city’s money wisely. So I took Lola for a walk up and down Dodge Street and here is what I saw.
The blocks between Baumeister and Lincoln are narrower and the street gradually widens around Lincoln. The sidewalks and the street itself are both in rough shape, especially in the south. The council was right—this must be fixed. And it will be fixed. But bike lanes and street widening will take out, to my count, 33 trees, and virtually all the grass between the sidewalk and the street. There simply would be no parkway for a few blocks.
The proposed bike lanes would remove parking from the street. Lines would be painted on the street and signs would be placed up and down Dodge. And more trees would be removed, making the bike lanes price tag $75,000 unless a grant pays for them. There is no grant right now.
As I see it, we are not making Dodge Street safer. Let’s imagine little Timmy walking through his lovely small town of Kewaunee. The new sidewalk in front of his treeless street is touching Dodge. Gone are the parkways that used to separate the streets and sidewalks. As cars go past, they could be inches away from children walking along on the sidewalk. So maybe he should ride his bike? There are bike lanes with painted lines and $15,000 worth of bike lane signs everywhere. Timmy rides up to the corner of Kilbourn and Dodge. The bike lane ends. But what should he do now? The bike lane has left him on the most dangerous bike block in the city. Dodge runs straight downhill into busy cross traffic. Will little Timmy be able to stop in time? Or will he go shooting across Ellis into the oncoming traffic?
If you have an opinion on street widening and/or bike lanes, please let me know—just shoot me an email of your thoughts at email@example.com We are getting a new street either way, which is a good thing. But surprises are not always appreciated, so I’m giving you some of the details of the proposed contract so you all have a better sense of what might be happening before papers are signed and construction begins.
Additionally, you have the option to go to City Hall for the Council meeting on this Monday, May 10th at 6pm. There is a Public Comment section fairly early on in the meeting where you can voice your opinions/concerns for up to three minutes.
Your opinions matter—Wendy Shelton