Jeramey Jannene
Transportation

No Two-Way State Street Until 2020

City will repave and transform street in time for the DNC.

By - Jul 18th, 2019 12:31 pm
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Two-Way to One-Way Divide at N. Market St. for E. State St. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Two-Way to One-Way Divide at N. Market St. for E. State St. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

A proposal to convert State Street through Downtown entirely to two-way traffic will have to wait until 2020.

The change, first approved by the Common Council in May 2018, would make the west-bound one-way street bi-directional from N. Market St. in East Town to N. 6th St. in Westown. Segments of the street to the east and west of the proposed change are already configured for two-way traffic.

Public Works Committee chair Alderman Robert Bauman, who represents the area, requested an update on the proposal at Tuesday’s committee meeting now that the Bradley Center has been demolished.

“The question is when do we pull the trigger to implement this two-way operation?” asked the alderman.

“This is scheduled to be done next year with high impact [paving],” said Department of Public Works transportation engineer-in-charge Rollin Bertran.

“When next year?” fired back Bauman. “I believe early next year,” said Bertran.

The change will provide fresh, smooth asphalt for Democratic National Convention delegates to roll up to Fiserv Forum on. But don’t expect to follow them. Much of the rebuilt street could end up within the security zone around the convention.

Why make the street two way? “Two-way streets actually contribute to safety because they do slow traffic down,” Bauman said in May 2018. It also makes it easier to move around, both by car or bicycle.

The proposal has the support of the Milwaukee Bucks, who own the former Bradley Center site.

Because it’s being done as part of the city’s high-impact paving program, designed to extend the life of roadways by up to 15 years, it won’t result in any major reconfiguration changes to the design of the street beyond reversing traffic lanes.

The high impact paving process, which involves adding a layer of asphalt to the street in just a couple days, allows the city to quickly pave three miles for $1 million, as opposed to a full reconstruction which costs three times as much. The 2019 budget includes $7.4 million for the program.

This isn’t the first time the city will have modified State Street. A portion of one-way segment, from N. Market St. to N. Van Buren St., was converted to two-way traffic in 2010. My colleague Dave Reid reported on that conversion and its shortcomings, most notably that it stopped at MGIC‘s parking garage to more easily allow employees to exit.

Since 2000, the city has converted all or parts of Broadway, Milwaukee, Wells and State streets to two-way traffic.

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