Dave Reid

Complete Street Makeover for S. 2nd Street?

By - Apr 30th, 2009 08:06 am
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S. 2nd St., in Walker’s Point, is another street in Milwaukee that is more than ready to go on a diet.  In fact there is an effort by a group of local business and property owners to have S. 2nd Street in Walker’s Point rebuilt as a transformative catalyst to build momentum in an area of Milwaukee where the disparity between potential and reality is vast. The street already has “great bones,” meaning it has pedestrian-scaled buildings with timeless architecture, local business operating on the street, and the urban fabric is still fairly well intact, which makes this street an attractive candidate for this kind of revitalization. Green features such as additional street trees, rain water retention strategies, lighting powered by renewable energy, and additional plantings have been high on the list of improvements desired, but the concept goes much further by reducing the street from four to two lanes of motor vehicle traffic, the addition of bike lanes and curb bumps outs, the use of enhanced pavement materials, and the widening of sidewalks.

The goal behind the plan is to help create an identity or brand for the area, to bring more life and vibrancy to the business district, and in turn spur further economic development in the area. Clearly, this is not just a good idea, but one that could help transform a street into the next vibrant Milwaukee district. This complete street design could be the little push this area needs to get it over the top. For example, projects such as the recently redeveloped Everit Knitting Company building could reap the benefits of this improved design because the area would become visual more appealing, offering a feeling of safety and security instead of deindustrializing deterioration which could help attract tenants that may have otherwise been uncertain of the area. With the help of graphic artist Kieran Sweeney the stark difference between the current street and just one example of what could be accomplished is shown below.

Before:

S. 2nd Street Before

After:

S. 2nd Street After

Despite the desires of local property and business owners, somewhere within the walls of City Hall, possibly within the Department of Public Works, or likely on the freeway to Madison this idea has encountered one large speed bump. This speed bump isn’t because it isn’t a great idea or one worthy of effort, it surely is, but because of the funding mechanism which is intended to be used to fund the repaving of S. 2nd St. In this case it appears a future 2nd St. repaving project will utilize state funds which unfortunately come with design guidelines inconsistent with an urban environment, because these guidelines are based on traffic count baselines developed solely to facilitate motorized travel. These guidelines include things like high speed turn lanes, multiple travel lanes, wide roads, little or no streetscaping, and the elimination of “vehicular obstacles” (trees) all of which are generally speaking road features designed for Brookfield, not for a walkable urban environment. Although, WisDOT regulations and the fear of losing out on funding is holding this concept back at this time, Alderman Bob Bauman has shown with his efforts on State St., that it is possible to direct state road funds towards more creative uses than new asphalt.

Hopefully, state and local officials will realize the value of rebuilding S. 2nd St. as more than an automobile sewer, so that it can spur economic development and become an example of how streets should be rebuilt throughout the City of Milwaukee.

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43 thoughts on “Complete Street Makeover for S. 2nd Street?”

  1. Suzanne says:

    Gorgeous! (Except for the bumpouts. Is there a better method to accomplish the same goal?)

  2. Alex says:

    I think its good idea but also make sure to use more colorful lighting around. More blinking of light and more electronic advertisement on the street. The ads should be uo to about 8 feet in height. This will make it a more of a metropolitan area, which is what milwaukee is trying to become.

  3. Alex says:

    Also I think the road would look great but we need to demolish those old and ugly building around and build new and contemporary.

  4. Dave Reid says:

    I really like bump outs because they make it safer for pedestrians, and slow traffic what is it you don’t like about bump outs?

  5. Dave Reid says:

    @Alex oh no, something it is great about a city is a mixture of the age of buildings. Plus this building has great buildings that just need some reinvestment. Further, large scale demolition has gutted cities, not helped them…

  6. Jeff says:

    Alex, you’re just trying to be funny, right? The makeover idea is great; it might serve as a catalyst for other projects on the street, including infill development. At a minimum, the street badly needs repaving … well, so do a lot of streets around downtown!

  7. Michael says:

    As a member of the gay community it would be nice to see Milwaukee’s “gay district” get a bit of a makeover. Taking a look at the after pic, you could honestly confuse that with Halsted in Chicago, or Columbus, OHs district. It would be nice to see the makeover and development of a few mixed use developments. Gay districts can provide a lot to a city.

  8. Jeff says:

    Michael, bingo. The area has been home to gay bars for years, but only in small clusters here and there. And the overall feel of the area has been, well, grungy and uninviting. The city could give the area a Boys Town-type moniker (like the nearby, newly created Latin Quarter), and other gay-friendly businesses could be encouraged to move in. It could become a real destination.

  9. Ey, youse turkeys with dis blog tink youse knows whacher talking bout! Ya dont! We in duh DeePeeDubbyah run this @#$! city an we deserv togit our peece of any good fed or state graft any whichway we can. (You gotta bunch a parking tickets comin yer way Reid!)

    If you dont like the ways da road dough is spent, den take it up wit Doyle, Obama and all dese other “progressive” democrats youse gots elected now. Me, I vote with the union an live as close to outta da city I can since dey force us to live in it. Screw 2nd St. In 5 years I’m outta here to florida baby. Thanks for the pension!

  10. Alex Runner says:

    I totally agree with Dave — great piece, by the way — and not the other Alex: Why demolish historic buildings that have such great character?

  11. Urban Advocate says:

    Why aren’t you working for the City? This design is great! I totally would be for making over 2nd street. Aren’t there new plush condos nearby? the area could very well become the next 3rd ward. The only negative is that the sewage plant is nearby. With a growing gay demographic, the city could definitely attract more of these successful, highly-paid people and their tax base with a makeover. I think some people might avoid that neighborhood even if there are bars there because it’s run down. I love what the 3rd ward has become and would definitely like to see more old neighborhoods revamped. Seriously, fifteen years ago I thought the 3rd ward was a ghetto. Now I’d feel fine raising a family there.

  12. Alan says:

    Michael:
    “you could honestly confuse that with Halsted in Chicago, or Columbus, OHs district.”

    You wouldn’t be a very good Milwaukeean, though, what with the Polish Moon hanging out overhead.

  13. Hi Dave, nice article. I would think that WisDOT has some kind of design exception process that would allow you to make the types of improvements you’re looking for. Sure, the process would be cumbersome, and you’d probably have a hard time getting the bulbouts approved (truck turning radius one key issue), but some kind of compromise could probably be achieved. (Note: I used to work for two different DOTs). I think the one commenter was dead on that even a surface repaving would do the street wonders. I’m not saying don’t shoot for the stars though.

    The one major issue I see is the colored bike lanes. The MUTCD standard as I know it currently prohibits them. A few cities are testing this on an experimental basis (Portland, SF, Peoria, IL are a few), but I doubt Wisconsin has adopted their own standards for colored bike lanes yet.

    Also, I agree with the other comments above about the Columbus, OH gay district (The Short North). It’s a pretty incredible district now, but I bet it probably had a lot in common with this area before its revitalization.

  14. victor ray says:

    This is an awesome rendition of what the Neighbors and Business’ have been talking about in the Historic Walkers Point for years. We as a City cannot afford not to do this. Walkers Point is the Gateway into a revitalized Milwaukee, rich in its diversity, conscious of its contribution to urban green living, and creating that attractive bent of returning living and dining to the down town area. Our elected officials and government agency needs to understand what might be best for the city…..comes from those that live and work there and is not created on some drawing board, or some machine that counts cars, or some government formula for what we get.
    This is a new era a time of growth for the future, its a resurgence of people caring once again for a quality of life. City Officials….Mr. Mayor come down to 2nd street and see what could be….lets make Milwaukee a City that attracks people to it instead of an area that people run from when the sun goes down.

  15. Juli Kaufmann says:

    @ Victor Ray: YES, YES, YES!!!

    This is a rare opportunity in the life of a city. We need to strive for greatness, not merely current code compliance. Let’s keep the discussion going. I don’t think we have everything right, nor everything figured out, but let’s keep talking about possibilities rather than focusing on barriers. I think we can all find ways to compromise without being disagreeable and while still getting something really incredible. C’mon Milwaukee.

  16. Michael says:

    Alan — yes I could. Have you seen parts of those areas? They are similar with older buildings mixed in with new builds… and similar street improvements (in the after pic). Only thing we would need are the new builds which would come with time.. especially if the area looked more welcoming.

    A makeover would also go a long way to reduce crime in the area.

  17. stella cretek says:

    Grow up! Is there anything worse than ghetto-izing gays, blacks, blah, blah? A bad idea, as if folks would visit a gay/lesbian area in the way they visit and stare at the Amish in Amana Colonies, Iowa. Update, integrate, accomodate.

  18. Nate Holton says:

    Great drawing! Has there been any movement by the alderman or WisDOT on this in the last couple months? I know it’s been rough sledding.

  19. Stella, I don’t think anyone’s advocating for GLBTs to be segregated from everyone else. In the cases of Columbus (High Street) and Chicago (Halsted Street) it happened that there were some gay individuals that helped turn the neighborhoods around. As the areas turned around, it just so happened to attract many other GLBT citizens because they are livable neighborhoods. In some places along the corridors, there were predominately black neighborhoods. I think the neighborhoods have probably become more integrated over time. However, you could certainly build the case for gentrification issues. Those areas are certainly nothing like the Amana Colonies in terms of gawking, etc.

  20. Dave Reid says:

    @Nate I know Juli could answer better, but from what I hear nothing much has happened. But maybe with some public awareness things can change.

  21. Juli Kaufmann says:

    @Nate Alderman Witkowiak has indicated that, in concept, he supports many of the ideas being discussed in the community. He has participated in some dialogue to that end. I can’t say that he has picked up on this issue to really take a strong public leadership role, but he may be doing a lot more behind the scenes that I realize. DPW has participated in a number of meetings. They have consistently indicated that the technical and funding issues in play prevent a number of the ideas from being realistic. At the same time, they have included additional trees to the plan and have indicated that they included a request for pedestrian lighting into a recent stimulus package request to state government. City staff seem frequently frustrated with the neighborhood efforts. I can’t blame them for frustration, we have a number of strong voices, that don’t all speak from the same page. We have a couple neighborhood organizations that meet at different times, advance different agendas, and are not efficiently organized around a unified rallying point. Thus is the nature of all volunteer, community-driven democracy, I guess. I don’t think we hire traffic engineers to have expertise in community listening sessions, nor do we reward them for being nuanced and responsive to messy democratic process, so what should we expect. I believe they are just trying to do their jobs. We, in the neighborhood, to date, have failed at our efforts to really pull together a Business Improvement District. Understandably, most business owners don’t want to tax themselves more. State Representative Pedro Colon and his staff have been probably most helpful in investigating and advocating on some of the potential WisDOT requirement and funding formulas that seem to be the greatest barriers. The South Side Community Plan – a broad-based community effort that garnered lots of wide-ranging input really supports many of these ideas. Streets are our public infrastructure and, at the end of the day, fundamentally fall in the domain of government. Bottom line, I think we lack urban policy leadership within city and state government and the limited leaders that do emerge find too many pressing issues competing for time and resources. I sure hope 2nd Street can rise up at this moment.

  22. 2nd Street Native says:

    ONLY one or two remaining gay bars in 8 blocks will not substantiate a gay district, to the exclusion of 95% of the City

  23. 2nd St Native says:

    the Reed Street District has INCREDIBLE potential and needs help with public infrastructure, lighting, bike lanes, streetscaping, additional parking capacity, etc. to realize our full potential
    many area residents and owners have favored the return to the historic Reed Street name as part of the new branding and identity effort–this is NOT a renaming–but will give a sense of location and destination as the area redevelops including the Reed Street Yards and others and is being championed in the new Near South Side Area plan
    great illustration of proposed improvements, which works towards this end of the preferred economic vitality, new business recruitment, people friendly sidewalks, etc
    2 traffic lanes, rather than four works to this same end to be both business- and pedestrian-friendly & thats great
    many property owners, not carpet-bagger architects/contractors/transients without ownership, have a viable plan through expansion of the TID with TIF financing which will achieve many of these same benefits without the immediate and huge expense—the single best redevelopmt tool the City has

    we need City cooperation, not its opposition, to achieve the needed improvements
    DPW and DOT design guidelines benefit…… only through traffic, not street revitalization, parking and the economy and it never will
    4 lanes of thoroughfare traffic over the last decades has facilitated only continued decline, traffic through and out of the area, reduced/eliminated parking with little economic benefit–this must be explained to every public Dept. staff member & elected official

    Gays picked the area due to: cheap rents, many dark corners and easy activity (think Jeff Dahmer, a regular)
    the street HAS IMPROVED SIGNIFICANTLY since many Gay or seedy bars have closed/moved, most improvement came since closing of Dish, 219, Cie Le Vis, porn shops, Gay Times and others
    less street crime, fewer male prostitutes, less drug use/traffic, fewer car breakins & street fights, no condoms to pick up in the alleys and no more whores looking to fund their drug habit

    residents and non-owners have pushed ‘their vision’ and own agenda to pursue a BID and with little to no explanation of details to those they quickly expect to pay for it all, the property and business owners
    many owners objectives are similar, but why mandate a more expensive and less effective way to achieve them with the BID
    please include the owners to achieve any sense of consensus in moving forward to the same objectives

    many other great attributes of the street
    historic district with turn of century and even pre-civil war era buildings, most worthy of preservation
    great proximity to all, downtown, lake front, river walk, entertainment, new hotels, H-D museum, etc
    many new lofts, businesses and storefronts already
    lets keep the momentum moving forward with a TID and TIF funding

  24. Dave Reid says:

    @2nd St. Native using a TIF is one funding mechanism that might be used, though it generally requires some sort of large development project (because you have to create increment) to be going on in within the boundaries, which in turn would require some developer to get involved. To my knowledge there aren’t any large scale developments with funding in the works right now, and even if there were that could shift a lot of the control to the developer not the local business and property owners. That said, It is possible the area could become more likely to see development if some of these improvements would happen first. Then in connection with development projects further improvements could occur, but to get things rolling some improvements, now, would really help.

    A BID is a very reasonable method to accomplish some of these improvements and to improve safety, cleanliness, attractiveness, and quite frankly to get political support to get projects done, for the area over the long term. BIDs all over the city have been successful with these goals, and it really makes a lot of sense.

  25. Folsono D says:

    Awesome work on this. I just want to throw my two cents in here as there seems to be a bit of homophobia rearing its head. A “Gay district” does not have to go hand in hand with a “Seedy neighborhood”. I’m a former Milwaukeean living in San Francisco and the Castro district here (epicenter of all things gay) is easily one of the least seediest, most safe, and more interesting neighborhoods in the city. We really shouldn’t get paranoid about it. That’s what drives gays into seedy areas, which is very sad.

  26. Corey Burger says:

    Suzanne: Why don’t you like the sidewalk bulges? They are a great way for drivers to be able to see the pedestrians (they are not hidden behind parked cars), shorten the distance for pedestrians and narrow the road, thus slowing cars.

  27. Chris says:

    This development is a step in the right direction, however it could be more forward-looking than what’s currently rendered. The Walkers Point area represents a unique opportunity to create a pedestrian environment and urban realm that responds to many different conditions. This is a interesting area that shouldn’t be given the same Disney-like makeover that can be seen in almost any downtown in any city around the country. How about designing a place that actually enhances what’s already good about the area AND addresses current needs?!

    What’s good about the proposal illustrated above and what could be improved:

    - A narrower 2nd Street. The street is currently way too wide and fast. The bump-outs do much to squeeze the street dimensions to a more pedestrian friendly scale. However, it’s difficult to tell if the sidewalks are widened? The large street dimensions provide an opportunity to widen the currently narrow sidewalks allowing a layered street edge to happen. A wider sidewalk would allow opportunities to implement a generous zone of native plantings.

    Rather than use the knee-jerk planters, how about considering a vegetated area of substance? Currently this area is bleak at best when it comes to incorporating landscaping. A large swath of green space could help control storm water run-off while adding a unique sense of place. Signage and pedestrian scaled art installations could educate passersby to how the landscaped area works.

    Please, no faux-brick crosswalks. The notion of changing paving patterns and color at the crossings is very good. But for the love of all things authentic, can we find of way to do this that doesn’t fake it up? If you’re gonna stamp asphalt, at least do it in a way that offers something new.

    All in all it’s good to see serious discussion about enhancing this district. But let’s not miss an opportunity to think beyond the usual makeover. This area deserves an improvement that makes Walker Point even more Walker Point-ish, if that makes any sense…

  28. Dave Steele says:

    I often ride my bike on South Second Street, and I can’t think of a better place for bike-only lanes. The auto traffic is quite light, there really is no need for four full lanes of auto traffic. Motorists prefer 1st Street over 2nd Street, making 2nd a much more pleasant ride for trips from Downtown to Bay View/South Side. The only thing that keeps it from being an ideal riding street is the horrendous quality of the pavement.

  29. Crusader Rabbit says:

    I agree with Chris that Historic Walkers Point should keep its unique character. I love the train tressle and the Coal Company building next to it on Second Street. I’d like to see them remain as they are, soot, grime and aged right out of the past. They mark time, a sense of the historic past of the area. The buildings are great for residential and retail development, hopefully new buildings would be sensitive to the scale of the older structures on the street. There is wonderful potential for living and working there. I am a 30 year resident of the area and I’ve seen a lot of changes. Hopefully my neighborhood can welcome a diversity of residents and not price it completely out of the range of the average individual to continue living there.

  30. Nate Holton says:

    Well good luck with the development, it definitely sounds like there’s momentum there and a strong desire to get something done. I’m beating a dead horse, but it does seem to me that efficient organization around a unified rallying point when it comes to a local project like this is precisely what the alderman is paid to accomplish.

  31. Michael says:

    2nd St Native: You are a disgusting example of a human being and if you made any attempt to actually learn about the development of cultural districts you might see things from a different point of view. Then again your extreme homophobia and stereotyping shows there may be no hope for you.

    Ironically you want to work together with the business owners and residents in the area to improve the area, but at the same time throw out hate and ignorance. The gay bars were the ones that brought people into the area, improved the facades of their buildings, and pressed the city to do more in terms of revitalization. In addition the owners of the “seedy gay bars” have worked with the police to reduce crime ranging from petty crime to full out gay bashing and murders (encouraged by people with attitudes like yours).

    Fortunately there are other people in the 2nd St. area that have joined together with the owners of the scary gay establishments to move the area forward instead of whatever direction you want to go in (which is apparently closing over a dozen gay owned businesses in the area).

  32. Paul Kneevers says:

    These plans are a abomination, created by people who mean well but are not versed in city planning nor know or respect the true outcomes of their suggestions.

    2nd. Street does not need bike lanes. Bike lanes are found on S. 1st Street..

  33. Paul Kneevers says:

    These plans are a abomination, created by people who mean well but are not versed in city planning nor know or understand the true outcomes of their suggestions.

    1) 2nd. Street does not need bike lanes. Bike lanes are found on S. 1st Street. Sure I wish I could afford to go to Amsterdam as much as some of my neighbors, but face it, we live in a industrial neighborhood. Deal with it.

    2) Pedestrian islands such as are currently found by Allen Bradley on S. 2nd. Street do nothing to help safety. We already have traffic lights, for which cars stop and people can walk across the street. What these new pedestrian islands do is impede traffic, which both makes it more dangerous and difficult to navigate both cars, trucks doing deliveries to businesses in the neighborhood and bikes on these streets.

    3) The new security cameras will be used to identify and collect data against us, and by us I mean people who choose an alternative lifestyle. If you think this is not true, look at the lawsuits and data collection from public and privately monitored cameras all over the world. If your clients are in the closet, cameras aren’t the way to make them feel at home visiting your bar. Wasn’t there just a big lawsuit from a camera operator who called about someone who wasn’t committing a crime, but was profiled by the camera operator in southeast Wisconsin? Install cameras and it’s not a question of what crimes you will solve, but what liabilities you will create, that taxpayers will have to, in the end pay for. The illusion of digital security is a hoax, sold to you by people who want to charge you to fix it. Duh.

    4) How about if all of these people who are spending their vital energy suggesting ways to fix the neighborhood tried instead to tackle serious issues, like starting a neighborhood currency (which is being done all over the country), or trying to save the businesses which still exist in our neighborhood from the current economic depression we are in?! Is anyone in this immediate group of smarty pants people creating jobs? Saving jobs? Helping businesses around them survive?

    It’s ignorant to solve problems by trying to put a band aid over the problems, like spending money to make our neighborhood pretty, while jobs are disappearing and crime goes up. The solutions this group is suggesting does nothing to solve the real problems, instead it will make them worse by making this a less accessible, less vital, less festive and less fun neighborhood.
    So our county and city are going bankrupt but we can afford for pretty rock gardens to be installed on Greenfield avenue? Just how is this helping us? Does Allen Bradley need to look good for it’s new potential owners? How were we conned to spend this money? By some Blockwatch group?

    IF you wanna live in a suburb, move. This is an industrial, mixed use downtown area. Let it continue to serve us in it’s unique way!

    I love my neighborhood, but fear my neighbors. The Mob mentality has emerged, and if you don’t know what’s better for you, they might decide YOUR property needs their expert attention.

    Seems to me there are quite a few “blighted” properties we could focus on. Is YOURS NEXT? It’s easy to start a petition drive. Is this really the best use of all of our time?

    Paul Kneevers

  34. Rob says:

    Paul:

    1) There’s no bike lane on 1st Street and, as unlikely as it may seem, 2nd St. is officially designated as part of the north/south bike trail. I’d love for it to be 1st St., too, but them the brakes as far as I can tell.

    2) Curb extensions are about calming traffic and keeping intersections visible for drivers and pedestrians. It’s possible to make them bike-friendly, but I can see how it would make deliveries a little more difficult.

    3) Where did this come from? No one mentioned cameras as part of the 2nd St. makeover.

    You’re entitled to your opinion on how effective any of this is, but you’re criticizing the wrong people. No one would have left a comment on this post if they didn’t care about this stretch of road and the neighborhood it belongs to. Do the people who live in Clocktower Acres not deserve to have landscaping on Lapham? Is that only appropriate in the areas of the city that are already “nice?”

    No one here wants to move to the suburbs and nothing anyone’s suggesting is suburban. The suggestions for 2nd St. are about revitalizing a street that has the potential to be a lot better than a scattering of vacant industrial warehouses. Nothing anyone has suggested would make 2nd St. less vital or more crime-ridden — it’s current quietness lends itself to crime because there aren’t enough people on the streets. Simply making the street less cratered and more inviting to the public will go a long way towards attracting more people to the area. In reality, urban planning strategies can intersect with crime control, job creation and supporting businesses.

  35. Dave Reid says:

    @Paul First off I’d say I’m very well versed in city planning, but anyhow.:)

    Curb bump outs improve safety because they slow traffic, and yes slowing traffic is a goal in an urban environment. The days when planning departments thought the best use of a street is to move as many cars as fast as possible out of the area are over.

    Further, rebuilding streets with these kinds of improvements have helped (of course there are plenty of other factors as well) make areas more vital in Milwaukee and other cities.

    As far as cameras I don’t think anyone on here suggested or even said anything about cameras so I don’t know where that came from.

    Local currency? Talk to Sura.

    In another article I did suggest a rebuild of the street that I live on and in fact some of the ideas are exactly what the city is about to do to my street.

    Finally this idea, that making Milwaukee more attractive is suburban in nature is well wrong. The idea that we need to move cars as fast as possible, and worry about that more than pedestrians, and bicyclists is clearly more of a suburban notion.

  36. Juli Kaufmann says:

    @Paul I agree with the two reactions to your comments already posted, and wanted to address a couple of your points that have not been mentioned:

    1. As has been clarified, cameras are not part of the plan. By alternative lifestyle and closeted, I assume you are referring to LGBT people. South 2nd Street has a long and rich tradition in Milwaukee that is central to the gay community. It was the original home to the LGBT Community Center, it hosts the annual parade to celebrate gay pride, many gay neighbors live here, and many gay-owned business call 2nd Street home. It is important to our cultural make-up as a city. Supporting and celebrating our gay community should be important to all of us. You might note, upon closer inspection, that the rendering we proposed for second street added two gay couples walking-arm-in-arm and hand-in-hand. I don’t realistically think a new street will change the world, but I think it can help us be a place that is welcoming to all.

    2. “Are any of you smarty-pants people creating jobs, saving jobs… helping businesses survive?”. First, I don’t think name-calling is nice, especially when we have never met. I can assure you, I am not that smart. More to your question, yes, yes, and yes. I personally live on 2nd Street, I am raising my 3 year old son here, I located my construction business here and we have created six new full-time well paying jobs in the neighborhood. These economic times are very hard and running a small business is terribly challenging. So, we are doing everything we can everyday to save these jobs. We are also working aggressively with the City of Milwaukee on a special project that has the hope of creating as many as 20 new full-time “green jobs”. Finally, I work very hard to intentionally direct any of my spending to support the local economy. As a person active in trying to help remake 2nd Street, I bring these priorities and values to the work. I am also working actively with the Fifth Ward Business Association which, by definition, is a group of local business owners who create jobs, pay taxes, and invest everyday in our neighborhood.

  37. Columbusite says:

    Overall, this should happen without question. Why our city leaders don´t understand (sometimes it´s a question of walking the walk) the rea$on$ for beautifying and making urban business districts accessible to all modes of transportation is beyond me, but whoever goes all out with this city-wide will reap the economic benefits that come with this investment (higher-property values, more pedestrians, more cyclists, more people spending money at local businesses, etc) that when implemented properly, creates a desirable place to live or visit. Of course, doing this for any street won´t always work for various reasons (image problems, a ravaged urban fabric, etc).

    Now for my nitpicking: bike lanes should never be implemented as all they do is push cyclists to the edge of the road and out of the way for drivers to lay claim to “their” road. The main reason I don´t want bike lanes here in Columbus is the same reason no sane traffic engineer would have a right’ turn-only lane to the *left* of a straight through-only lane. Cyclists are put in the blind spot/path of right-turning drivers which results in injuries and fatalities. From experience, riding in the middle of the lane has prevented me from possibly deadly collisions which would have occurred had I riden where a bike lane would be placed. The only time a car cut in front of me with a right hand turn was when I rode to the right of the lane. Now that I’m right in front of them, it has not happened since.

    Having two lanes in each direction is a good thing: put sharrows *in the middle of the right hand lanes to encourage proper cycling* and allow cars to safely pass cyclists riding in the right hand lane. Aside from a costly road diet, the curb bump-outs are great, but curb-hugging cyclists (a dangerous practice) will weave in and out between these and parked cars. Worth erecting would be signage advising cyclists to maintain the center of the lane. Reversing this faulty system in it´s early stages is the best chance for a truly safe cycling environment, not one that appears safe and bike-friendly.

    At the very least, the city needs to repave that road. It does not look like a place I’d want to ride my bike. Way too bumpy.

    Of course, as a Columbus native I have to disagree with the comparison of 2nd St pictured above with High St in the Short North. The Short North is much more polished, no offense. 2nd St does, however, resemble the more gritty “gay district” Downtown in the northern central strip of 5th St in the area currently dubbed the (ugh) Warehouse District. If you´d like to compare (I’ll disclose up front these are from my blog), here’s the Short North:

    http://columbus-ite.com/columbus-neighborhood-guide/the-short-north/

    And here’s the Warehouse District:

    http://columbus-ite.com/columbus-neighborhood-guide/downtown-columbus/warehouse-district/

    The first picture corresponds rather well with the stretch of 2nd St pictured above, although 2nd St looks a good deal more intact than our 5th St..

    I’m willing to bet 2nd St gets a makeover first between the two. The Warehouse District plan released in 2000 has yet to be implemented. In any case, those plans should just be scrapped, as should the name.

  38. Juli Kaufmann says:

    Update on S. 2nd Street:

    Recently, the City of Milwaukee submitted a funding request for “stimulus” funds to pay for pedestrian lighting on S. 2nd Street. Unfortunately, the proposal was not selected by the state. However, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation has indicated greater willingness to make S. 2nd Street a complete street, rather than simply repaving it. The City of Milwaukee Department of Public Works has indicated that it will take a closer look at some of these ideas as designing plans proceed. Advocacy is needed to continue to press for the enhancements we have discussed in this forum.

    Alderman Bauman has scheduled a communication update on the status of S. 2nd Street at the Public Works Committee meeting scheduled for next week. Alderman Witkowiak has confirmed that there will be opportunity for public comment. The public is welcome and anyone interested in the future of S. 2nd Street is encouraged to attend:

    Public Works Committee
    Wednesday, June 24th
    9AM
    Room 301B, Milwaukee City Hall

  39. 2nd St Native says:

    This is a GREAT neighborhood and has been for the last 150+ years and has under gone many changes.

    Look around at the historic character, pre-Civil war era buildings and some more recent, in an area time forgot. This type of proposal for redoing the Street is exactly whats required with all thats been suggested. Couple points:

    - Street narrowing with traffic calming, bike lanes and a City committment to widen sidewalks for retail, cafes and offices is definitely going to help attract and retain businesses and jobs. A few successes already, but quite a way to go yet for the rest of the St.

    - TIF funding for 2nd St/Reed Street District can be done with one of two fund mechanisms and doesn’t NEED a solo redevelopment project, the other means to implement is as a means to eliminate blight as the City has already done with other TIDs including the purpose of funding public improvements, similar to those proposed here.

    - The Hank Aaron Bike Trail ALREADY runs N-S along a portion of 2nd/Reed St to connect from the Men Valley to 3rd Ward and adding bike lanes is seen by many to make for a safer and more pedestrian-friendly area. This reamins a GREAT idea and check DNR website for route map.

    - The street has never been officially designated a Gay district, but has always been a quickly improving area for ALL types of businesses, boutique and design oriented firms, a few gay bars along with many, many others, and many have been here for multiple generations of owners. 1st 100 yrs was primarily industrial, with some still remaining, but with many new cafes, galleries, apartments, condos and even a recently proposed business and Water Technology park for the Reed Street Yards.

    - Never any Gay bashing intended, but only insinuated by the ‘victims’. If you’re offended by a redeveloping area and feel your ‘secret lifestyle’ threatened by the proposed street improvements, maybe a little less self-publicity would help your concern.

    FYI, the original area of MKE with a concentration of Gay bars was the 3rd Ward, a little research with Nancy O’Keefe of the 3rd Wd District would show that. Look how ‘horrible’ the 3rd Ward turned out for the sake of vested efforts by its owners and businesses interested in continuing to improve their own neighborhood, rather than to accept the continued decline, blight and all that goes with it.

  40. Dave Reid says:

    @2nd St Native, Yup I’m really forward to see the area redevelop both with the street makeover and the Reed Street Yard TIF.

  41. Dan N says:

    Bump outs, pretty rocks, new facades. These have all been done before in places where improvement has not occurred. We need to address the real deep problems: taxation, the prison industry, and education.

    Taxation: Get rid of the non-profit status in the City of Milwaukee. Every taxpayer is underwriting every religion and cause known to man. Meanwhile, these groups own a rather gigantic share of non-revenue generating real estate. You want to fund all this window-dressing, then let’s make some of these groups actually pay for their services and property. We can also stop sticking it to the working men and women of this city then — and yes, I believe in a flat tax for everyone, regardless of religion, race, creed or persuasion.

    Prison Industry: Let’s legislate and introduce more codes to enforce. Our city inspectors are already overburdened, but let’s add complexity and more strict guidelines for everyone to comply with. Forget we already have a slew of such laws, let’s add bump outs, more bylaws and check-boxes for anyone who already is a resident or business owner, flower boxes at prescribed intervals, lights of a certain variety and timbre, maybe a noise compliance below a certain decibel range. This is the “entry drug” of the police state. Cameras and Klaxons are next, the kind that will emit white noise to scatter the urchin who might be loitering at an insensitive time.

    Education: Let’s get our schools in order so we can actually produce some strong minds. Pretty pictures and landscaping will do no good if kids can’t read and have their minds ready to lead. If we all cared as much for teaching kids to read as we do about bump outs, we’d have a literate population.

    These are much bigger issues. While we talk about the pretty window dressing, the 5000 lb Gorilla is running in the back door and stealing our treasure out from under us, as he knew he could. We are mesmerized at the table and arguing about the menu while the bankers, storefront flim flam pastors and corrupt politicians in city hall keep picking our pockets clean! We’re only making it easy for them –

  42. Dave Reid says:

    @Dan N True it is no guarantee, but simply from a fiscal point of view the narrowing is actually cheaper than rebuilding the street in its current configuration. And long term cost of maintaining 2 lanes, is cheaper than 4. Additionally, property owners and business owners along this stretch indicated this could be the shot in the arm that moves some of their projects forward in the future. Finally, this reconfiguration changes the area from essentially a freeway, a place to go through, to a place people might want to stop.

    But yes, the city is doing its part, now it is up to the property owners to continue the redevelopment.

  43. Dave Reid says:

    @Dan N As far as the non-profit thing, not the first time I’ve about this idea, and although it sounds interesting I just don’t see it ever ever happening, beyond even more increased use of fees as non-profits pay those.

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