Jeramey Jannene

Construction Underway on Traffic Calming Projects

New curb bump-outs and other interventions aim to reduce reckless driving.

By - Oct 12th, 2022 04:02 pm
A new pinned-on curb bump-out at E. Oklahoma Ave. and S. Pine St. near Humboldt Park. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

A new pinned-on curb bump-out at E. Oklahoma Ave. and S. Pine St. near Humboldt Park. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Federally-funded concrete is beginning to appear on Milwaukee’s streets.

New curb bump-outs and other infrastructure changes are being made to nine streets in an effort to reduce reckless driving through engineering.

The primary function of the bump-outs, a section of sidewalk extended into the parking lane, will be to block reckless drivers from attempting the “Milwaukee Slide” where one illegally passes others by driving in the parking or bicycle lanes.

The bump-outs will also increase pedestrian safety by reducing the crossing distance and slowing the speed at which drivers turn right. Drivers turning right onto a street with a bump-out will not be able to cut diagonally through the parking lane and will instead need to make a tight right turn into the travel lane.

In select locations, the city is also adding pedestrian refuge islands, new striping for bike lanes, mini traffic circles, speed humps, new crosswalk striping and lane markers.

Overall, reducing the width of the roadway is anticipated to reduce speeding and fits with the city’s Vision Zero strategy of eliminating traffic deaths.

The four streets receiving the treatments in 2022 are E. Oklahoma Ave. (S. Clement Ave. to S. Howell Ave.) in Bay View, N. 35th St. (W. Cherry St. to W. Highland Blvd.) in Cold Spring Park, Walnut Hill and Washington Park, W. Locust St. (N. 40th St. to N. Sherman Blvd.) in Sherman Park and N. Oakland Ave. (at E. Newberry Blvd.) near Riverside Park.

The projects are being funded with $3.8 million from the city’s first tranche of American Rescue Plan Act funds ($197.2 million).

The bump-outs are being installed at corners and in mid-block locations. They are not installed in bus stops or directly in the crosswalk.

They are the first “pinned on” bump-outs in Milwaukee. There will be a gap between the bump-out and the existing curb to allow water to drain without having to relocate sewer grates and other infrastructure. The installation involves dowels drilled into the underlying pavement, rendering the concrete potentially removable. The technique is expected to be cheaper than a full reconstruction where the bump-out is flush with the curb but more impactful than painted bump-outs with plastic delineators.

“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 DPW Commissioner Jerrel Kruschke in April to the Public Works Committee. “It’s just one idea. There will be many more.”

Milwaukee General Construction Co. Inc. was the winning low bidder to complete the initial nine projects for the city. The company submitted a bid of $1.07 million.

The contract calls for the work on the first four corridors to be completed by Nov. 11. The remaining five corridors are to be completed by July 1, 2023. Seven more corridors are undergoing design work. The corridors were selected from a list of 50 possible candidates using a point system that factored in equity, safety and use.

The proposal was first introduced in late 2021 and DPW initially said the work could start in the spring, with the first nine completed in summer 2022.

The department, through a contractor, installed 246 ARPA-funded speed humps this year. The record total, all initiated at resident request, was fueled by reducing the assessment rate by approximately 66%. The council is considering extending that lower rate.

DPW, according to its website, has yet to finalize a contract for a consultant to design a comprehensive implementation and outreach strategy to lower speed limits. The council allocated $1.2 million to the effort in 2021 from the American Rescue Plan Act. 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.

Governor Tony Evers announced an additional $3.5 million infusion for traffic calming projects in March from the state’s ARPA allocation. The funds will be used for a project on N. 35th St. near W. Capitol Dr. and near schools and parks.

In addition to the ARPA-funded projects, the city allocated $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. The DPW website indicates contracts have been awarded for non-downtown projects to install bump-outs and other improvements.

2023 Construction

  • 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 )
  • Butterfly Park Access Improvements (N. 37th and 38th streets at W. Meinecke Ave.)
  • Washington Park Access (W. Galena St. – N. 37th St. to N. 40th St.)

In Design

  • 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.

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Categories: Transportation

2 thoughts on “Transportation: Construction Underway on Traffic Calming Projects”

  1. Thomas Sepllman says:

    What is reckless driving It is socially unacceptable behavior and WHO behaviors in such a manner BUT kids who have been traumatized TRAUMATIZED Once the folks are Urban Milwaukee figure that out then the rest of the community can begin the process of understanding how trauma INJURIES the BRAIN

  2. Polaris says:

    It would be good if the City could coordinate its traffic calming and protected bike lane efforts.

    First, I wonder if protected bike lanes that reverse the locations of bike lanes and street parking might not mitigate the need for bulb outs by simply pushing parking further out toward the middle of the street and giving pedestrians more of a head start at crosswalks. Second, as shown in the picture that accompanies this article, a recently built bulb out does nothing to protect the bike lane…but perhaps it could have in the hands of a creative planner.

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