Jeramey Jannene

Downtown Losing Another One-Way Street

State Street will be bi-directional through Downtown, making it easier to navigate neighborhood.

By - May 25th, 2020 04:15 pm
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.

It’s going to be easier and smoother to navigate downtown Milwaukee by the end of the week.

Starting Tuesday, a city contractor will begin a long-awaited project: State Street from N. Market St. to N. 6th St. will be converted from one-way to two-way traffic. That work is expected to be completed Wednesday night. Rolling closures starting Tuesday morning will accommodate that work, which largely includes paint and replacing street signs.

W. State St. from N. Old World Third St. to N. 10th St. will also be repaved at the same time. The work, part of the city’s High Impact Paving program, will remove and replace the top layer of asphalt. At a cost of about $1 million per every three miles, the program is intended to extend the life of city streets without the need to completely rebuild them.

The 2020 budget includes $8 million for the program, up from $7.4 million in 2019. Surplus revenue from a Shops of Grand Avenue tax incremental financing district is paying for the W. State St. paving. The paving project is also scheduled to be completed Wednesday evening.

This isn’t the first time the city will have modified State Street in the past decade. A portion of the street, 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.

State and Wells streets were reconfigured as a pair of in-bound and out-bound one-way streets decades ago when traffic planning focused on getting people in and out of Downtown as fast as possible.

The focus now is more often on providing slow and steady service on urban streets. “Two-way streets actually contribute to safety because they do slow traffic down,” said area Alderman Robert Bauman in May 2018. It also makes it easier to move around, both by car or bicycle.

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

The city had originally scheduled the paving and two-way conversion to take place before the Democratic National Convention. But the convention was delayed from July to August and it is unclear how many people will ultimately attend the week-long event.

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Categories: Transportation

2 thoughts on “Transportation: Downtown Losing Another One-Way Street”

  1. mike kirkwood says:

    Many cities use one-way streets with great success. They are easier to cross for pedestrians, eliminate dangerous head-on crashes, especially involving left-hand turns. If speed is a concern, just put up stop signs, stop lights, or speed bumps. Many suburbanites won’t come downtown as they hate freeways with their confusion, congestion, and construction. Easy to drive one-way streets are perfect for them, and the economy of downtown businesses. Driving on one-way streets just feels much safer and less stressful. 

  2. Alan Bartelme says:

    The point is to make driving less comfortable, so drivers slow down and focus on what’s going on around them.

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