Jeramey Jannene

DPW Plans Surge of Traffic-Calming Bump Outs

Plan to combat reckless driving, protect pedestrians using ARPA funds.

By - Apr 26th, 2022 02:06 pm
Curb bump-outs extend into N. Fratney St. and W. Center St. reducing turning speeds, blocking the "Milwaukee Slide." Photo by Graham Kilmer.

Full curb bump-outs extend into N. Fratney St. and W. Center St. reducing turning speeds, blocking the “Milwaukee Slide.” Photo by Graham Kilmer.

The Department of Public Works is continuing to move forward on multiple fronts to address reckless driving and more financial support is on the way. A record number of speed humps are scheduled to be installed, 16 traffic calming projects are being readied for construction and a city-wide reduction in speed limits is planned.

The city is funding the projects with a $6 million allocation from its federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant. And it will now receive an additional $3.5 million from the state’s ARPA grant. Governor Tony Evers announced the allocation in March as part of a $20 million Milwaukee public safety plan focused on reducing a court backlog.

“It’s a real big positive,” said City Engineer Jerrel Kruschke of the new funding to members of the Public Works Committee on April 7. “We are going to continue to spread that around the city.”

Nine street reconfiguration projects are expected to be completed this summer and seven more reconfiguration projects are being designed as part of a $3.8 million traffic calming project.

“It could be striping, it could be more bump-outs. It could be stopping passing on the right. All those type of things,” said Kruschke. “We hired consultants to give us creative ideas to try to reduce roadway cross-sections [widths] to reduce reckless driving.”

The city is expected to install what it is calling “pinned-on bump-outs,” said Kruschke.

A bump-out is an extension of the curb into the parking lane at an intersection. They shorten crossing distances for pedestrians while preventing motorists from passing on the right and requiring those making right turns to slow down. DPW has experimented with installing full concrete extensions as part of paving projects as well as using a mix of plastic bollards and concrete planters for lower-cost, temporary interventions.

The new proposal, already in use in other cities, is a middle ground. The implementation is expected to be cheaper than fully rebuilding the intersection and relocating utilities. It calls for a concrete bump-out with a gap between it and the existing curb to allow water to drain without having to relocate sewer grates and other infrastructure.

DPW will install the pinned-on bump-outs just short of intersections to avoid accessibility issues inherent with connecting the sidewalks to the separated curb extensions. A crosswalk will be protected by the bump-out, but will not directly include the bump-out. Markers will be included in the bump-outs to increase their visibility.

“We’re trying to get as much as we can on the streets to tackle reckless driving without spending $1 million on one roadway,” said the engineer. “It’s just one idea. There will be many more.”

“If it does not work, we can remove it,” said Kruschke of the latest bump-out concept. They will be connected to the roadway by dowels, so the pavement underneath won’t need to be removed.

“It’s like putting a big slab of concrete on top of the road,” said Alderman Robert Bauman. “It’s theoretically removable.”

Construction bidding notices are expected to be issued on the first nine corridors (listed below) in the coming weeks. Multi-modal planning manager Michael Amsden said design work on the seven remaining corridors is further behind.

Kruschke and Amsden said the corridors to be revamped, first released in late 2021, were selected from a list of 50 possible candidates using a point system that factored in equity, safety and use.

“We have got the ball moving,” said Kruschke. “We are on target right now, which is a really good thing.”

In addition to the ARPA-funded projects, the city is allocating $8.5 million in property tax revenue from tax incremental financing districts to rebuild and reconfigure streets. The proposed projects are located along N. Van Buren St. in Downtown, near the Midtown Center shopping mall on the city’s North Side and in the area around Stadium Business Park and Burnham Park on the city’s South Side.

Speed Limit Changes

DPW is also moving forward on a proposal to lower speed limits. The council allocated $1.2 million to the effort in 2021 from the American Rescue Plan Act.

“We have the RFP built and we need to get it on the street relatively quickly,” said Kruschke.

Amsden said it would be a two-pronged approach, with a new, lower speed limit on residential side streets and a more targeted approach for busier streets. He said DPW has been meeting with individual council members to discuss their concerns.

“We have been making some tweaks and we are hoping to get it out shortly,” said Amsden.

A switch from a limit of 25 miles per hour down to 20 mph would include sign changes, an ordinance change and a “very visible” marketing and education campaign.

“We are thinking about a six-month process,” said the planner of the campaign.

An international movement is gaining traction using the slogan “20 is plenty.” The risk of severe injury for pedestrians jumps from a 25% chance at 23 mph to 50% at 31 mph and 75% at 39 mph.

Targeted Corridors

Ready for bid

  • N. 35th St. (W. Congress St. to W. Townsend St.)
  • N. 27th St. (W. Atkinson Ave. to W. Center St.)
  • S. 35th St. (W. Lincoln Ave. to. W. Oklahoma Ave. to )
  • E. Oklahoma Ave. (S. Clement Ave. to S. Howell Ave.)
  • N. 35th St. (W. Highland Blvd. to W. Cherry St.)
  • W. Locust St. (N. 40th St. to N. Sherman Blvd.)
  • Butterfly Park Access Improvements (N. 37th and 38th streets at W. Meinecke Ave.)
  • Riverside Park / HS Access Improvements (E. Newberry Blvd./N. Oakland Ave., N. Cambridge Ave./E. Locust St.)
  • Washington Park Access (W. Galena St. – N. 37th St. to N. 40th St.)

Still to come

  • N. 60th St. (W. Silver Spring Dr. to W. Hampton Ave.)
  • W. Appleton Ave. (N. 60th St. to W. Burleigh St.) + Alameda Neighborhood
  • W. North Ave. (N. 24th St. to N. 30th St.)
  • W. Highland Blvd (N. 20th St. to N. 35th St.)
  • W. Lapham Blvd (S. 6th St. to S. Cesar E. Chavez Dr.)
  • W. Lincoln Ave (S. 1st St. to S. 35th St.)
  • Intersection of N. 27th St./W. Center St./W. Fond du Lac Ave.
Categories: Transportation, Weekly

One thought on “Transportation: DPW Plans Surge of Traffic-Calming Bump Outs”

  1. steenwyr says:

    Jersey barriers every 200 feet. I’m available for consulting and government funding. Thanks!

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