$2 Million BRT Study Underway
25 detectors along 9-mile Bus Rapid Transit route measure traffic to find best route.
Last week, a crew from TranSmart, a Madison company, erected a solar panel on a light pole just a few away from a Luke parking meter station in the 400 block of E. Wells St., leading a passerby to inquire if the two were to be connected.
In fact, no. The solar panel would not be used to power the nearby collector of municipal revenue, but instead was related to planning for the proposed East-West Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system.
The panel was one of 25 placed along the proposed route, and will power devices in a traffic study.
The traffic study is part of the project development phase of the project which consists of engineering and design as well as an environmental assessment of the project design.
For the traffic analysis, 25 detector units were installed along the BRT corridor to collect current traffic pattern data. The units anonymously detect Bluetooth devices (phones, wireless headphones, vehicle communications, etc.) to determine existing travel patterns from vehicles utilizing the local street system.
In addition, the project team recently completed intersection turning movement counts (which count all vehicles, pedestrians, and bicycles as they move through the intersection) using video detection technology.
“The traffic count data, along with the Bluetooth travel pattern data, will be used to assess how the proposed BRT may affect existing traffic conditions and to create a traffic model that analyzes future traffic conditions with and without the proposed BRT service.
$2 Million For More Than Traffic Study
Milwaukee County budgeted $2 million for this phase of the project, which includes all the engineering and design work, the environmental assessment in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, public engagement, etc.
All this money can be used as part of the required local match for federal funds.
“As you might remember, last year was phase one, technically referred to as the feasibility study, and that included numerous public meetings and votes by the Cities of Milwaukee and Wauwatosa and the County Board and we submitted a grant request to the FTA for the project,” Conway notes.
Although the projected route through downtown is on Wisconsin Avenue, the E. Wells Street location where the solar panel was installed last week is being considered as an alternative “if conditions arise in which the preferred route is found not to be feasible,” according to the BRT website.
Timeline Being Finalized
Conway added that the timeline for this year is still being finalized, while data is in the process of being accumulated. This is customary in today’s fast-track design/build projects.
The public will be invited to comment, Conway said: “We expect to have enough information to kick off some public meetings on the station and lane design in May.”
More information can be found at http://www.eastwestbrt.com/