Dave Reid

Next Up? E. Wells Street

By - Sep 29th, 2010 02:12 pm
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Proposed Redevelopment Site

Proposed Redevelopment Site

Now that E. State Street has been converted to two-way traffic in East Town, next up for conversion is E. Wells Street.  No longer is it one half of a one-way pair with E. State St., so even engineering professionals can’t make the flawed argument that it needs to remain in its current configuration.  And just like E. State St., anyone who lives in the neighborhood can tell you that on the weekends it is not uncommon to see a car go the wrong way down this street, and that ‘rush hour’ lasts for all of a few minutes around 5 pm.  With a short ‘rush hour’, safety concerns, and the lack of need for it to remain in its current configuration, it’s time for E. Wells St. to be the next two-way street conversion in downtown Milwaukee.

This conversion project will involve more variables, than the E. State St. project as it has some differences from E. State St.  It is on the route of the planned Milwaukee Streetcar, the corner of Milwaukee St. and Wells St. has long been proposed as a site ready for a significant redevelopment, and it runs through Cathedral Square, an area of heavy evening pedestrian traffic.  Keeping these factors in mind, an important section of E. Wells St., is poised to become more of an activated street with pedestrians and transit riders in the near future, a dramatic change from its current use as a freeway.

To accomplish this properly, focusing on the pedestrian environment needs to be given higher priority than peak automobile traffic days.  The design should make the daily experience more enjoyable to pedestrians by removing a travel lane, converting the street to two-way traffic, possibly adding curb-separated or standard bike lanes, and adding the streetcar and its tracks.  Potentially curb bump-outs and enhanced materials could be utilized at the Jefferson St. and Jackson St. intersections to enhance the square, and streetcar stops need to be designed to fit the character of the area.

If done correctly, reconfiguring this street for two-way traffic, with pedestrians in mind, can improve safety and connectivity, build upon neighborhood assets, all the while building a pedestrian-friendly environment conducive to growth of the neighborhood.

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3 thoughts on “Next Up? E. Wells Street”

  1. Eric Schierer says:

    Agree completely on the desire for curb bump-outs.

  2. Nathan says:

    I understand the desire to make walkable. I am a graduate of MSOE, have lived downtown for years, and am a big fan of beautifying Milwaukee. However, I question whether making State and Wells two-way makes the area more walkable. Having crossed State thousands of times during my time at MSOE, I never felt it was a “highway” that was dangerous for pedestrians, as you have described it. Further, I now work on Canal St and often drive downtown for lunch (mostly to the Metromart). The one-way arrangement of State and Wells made it a quick drive. With that changed, I will mostly likely not be driving downtown as often for lunch. Quick and easy access to downtown should not be completely sacrificed to other priorities.

  3. Dave Reid says:

    @Nathan I’m not sure why you would stop driving downtown, because these changes actually make it easier for you to get around, not less. Further, to my eyes, the State St. conversion has had absolutely no negative impact at all towards congestion.

    As far as State St. being a freeway, I live on it and often saw people driving well over the speed limit, hopefully people will go the speed limit now.

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