Dave Reid

S. 2nd Street Complete Streets Effort Moves Forward!

By - Sep 15th, 2009 02:33 pm
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S. 2nd Street After

S. 2nd Street After

This past Friday a public meeting was held to discuss the reconstruction of S. 2nd Street in Walker’s Point from National Ave. north to the train tracks.  As had been proposed here at UrbanMilwaukee.com, and more importantly fought for by business owners in Walker’s Point, the reconstruction will now include many features of a complete street.  This project appears to have the full attention of City Hall as Clark Wantoch, Public Works administration and transportation design manager, Rocky Marcoux, Commissioner Department of City Development, and Alderman Jim Witkowiak spoke in strong support of the new design.  Alderman Witkowiak explained that “we think that 2nd Street has an excellent future as a retail center,” and that he felt “it’ll mean a lot to the future redevelopment of 2nd Street and the surrounding area.”

The design includes many of the features of a complete street, including one travel lane in each direction, bike lanes in each direction, parallel parking on both sides of the street, and wider sidewalks to allow for pedestrian activity.  The sidewalks allow for more green space with sodded sections and trees, or if the abutting property owner prefers it will be setup as a full sidewalk area to support retail functions.  Additionally, a variety of street trees will be planted along S. 2nd Street as part of the streetscaping.  Finally, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Phase Three funds of more than $500,000 were approved at the Joint Finance committee to be utilized for pedestrian lighting.  Other features such as bioswales will likely not be part of the project due to cost, and the street’s contamination which would reduce the environmental benefits.  Planters and other street furniture will also not be included in the state contract though as Allison Rozek , of the Department of City Development, suggested a Business Improvement District (“BID”) could be formed by property owners to handle these elements, and further “dress up the corridor.”  The reconstruction, if all goes well, would break ground after next summer’s Summerfest with the goal of having the majority of the work completed by November with sodding and some finishing work to occurring the following spring.

Unlike many public meetings, the fear of change was minimal.  In fact most of the questions reflected individual business owners trying to figure out if they wanted wider sidewalks or the sod, or even if they could acquire additional street trees.  One owner even pushed to include the area from Rockwell to National Avenue in the reconstruction project.  Unfortunately, as this section isn’t due for re-pavement the improved sidewalks will wait until a re-paving project is appropriate, though this section of the street will have some improvements including the painted bike lanes, and the reduction of travel lanes.  There were some concerns regarding parking during the reconstruction, and one business owner was concerned over the loss of travel lanes, but overall the members in attendance were in strong support of the project, in fact applauding the efforts at the end of the meeting.

This meeting was just the first of many meetings to come regarding the redesign, but this project is both a signal that the City of Milwaukee views Walker’s Point as a critical neighborhood, and a sign that neighborhood business owners and residents believe Walker’s Point is ready to grow.

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9 thoughts on “S. 2nd Street Complete Streets Effort Moves Forward!”

  1. Mike Poe says:

    Great step in the right direction for a neighborhood that needs a few facelifts.

    Do you think this will in any way affect the Fresh Water School staying in Walker’s Point. I guess if there is a strong effort to improve the area around it, UWM could really think hard about staying on Greenfield Ave. Should they (UWM) build a brand new state of the art mecca a couple blocks away, things could really pick up in this part of the city.

    Now that the lakefront is off the table, do you see this happening Dave?

  2. Dave Reid says:

    @Mike I don’t believe the Great Lakes Water Institute was evey going to move. The School of Freshwater Sciences is related but not going to replace the Great Lakes Water Institute (I don’t think anyhow). Might it land down in Walker’s Point, yes that is a possibility, but nobody really knows yet.

  3. Nick says:

    This is great, especially since the Oak Leaf Trail runs through 2nd. It will make it a nicer ride when connecting downtown with the south side.

  4. Dave Reid says:

    @Nick And a related project in the area will continue the Hank Aaron Trail!

  5. lg says:

    I heard 1st street in Walkers Point will be getting a upgrade soon, I believe next year. Does anyone know any information about this?

  6. Dave Reid says:

    Yes 1st will be repaved (I think it is just a repave, and not a rebuild though I’m not sure). I don’t believe there are any pedestrian. I think that actually starts soon, so it can be done before Summerfest.

  7. Mitch says:

    In regards to the School of Freshwater Sciences, If I had to bet I would bet on a site in the Reed Street Yards redevelopments (across from the Harley Museum and behind the Iron Horse).

    However, I thought the “Pieces of Eight” site was a done deal, so don’t be asking me to by you a lottery ticket.

  8. Dave says:

    As a bicyclist I already use 2nd Street quite frequently. It will be a much more pleasant ride, and will constitute a key north-south bike corridor. I’m excited about this project.

  9. Juli Kaufmann says:

    The future of S. 2nd Street now looks bright indeed. Over the past year, a number of citizen-driven efforts culminated in a changing tide within government to create the changes we wished to see. Not least of these efforts was a dialogue spurred by coverage right here at Urban Milwaukee. I wanted to send my personal shout-out to the founders of UM and congratulate you on one year of service to Milwaukee. Your coverage elevated this issue. Your readership, through our comments, ignited a public dialogue. Your suggestion of participation in a national competition prompted the emergence of citizen volunteers who designed our desires for the street into a visual vision that actually came in second place. This national recognition prompted local media coverage to keep the issue at the forefront. Fill in lots of individual actions, emails, conversations, debates and advocacy later, and we have the current success. I also think we can acknowledge the engagement and flexibility of public servants and politicians who proved willing to remain open minded and step outside the standard comfort zone to listen to the will of the people together with the data about the value of complete streets. In all of this, Urban Milwaukee was an important tool toward this end. Walkers Point specifically and Milwaukee in general will be substantially better for it. I think democracy won one this time and the transformation coming in 2010 will be our ultimate reward. CHEERS everyone!!!

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