A New Look for Sherman Avenue

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - 4:46am

The City's Traffic Engineering Division is recommending improvements to decrease vehicle speed and to make it safer for pedestrians and bicycles on N. Sherman Avenue, one of the two main access points to Madison's Northside.

The recommendations come in a report requested by Alder Satya Rhodes-Conway, District 12, who recently introduced a resolution accepting the report and authorizing Traffic Engineering to make the changes.

"I have heard from every neighborhood association on this corridor, and from numerous people who live on and near it, that safety is a huge concern," said Ald. Rhodes-Conway. "That includes safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists." Ald. Rhodes-Conway held a community meeting in October to discuss neighborhood concerns, which were the basis of the report.

According to the report, N. Sherman Avenue is a standard arterial street serving Madison's Northside and carrying between 15,000 and 17,000 vehicles and an estimated 447 bicycles and 321 pedestrians on an average weekday. Over half the intersections on N. Sherman Avenue between Northport Drive and Roth Avenue have experienced at least one crash between 2007 and 2011, and there have been crashes at numerous mid-block sites. The Traffic Engineering Division, which tracks crash data across the city, recorded 170 total crashes between 2007 and 2011 in the corridor. Thirty-two percent were related to left turns from Sherman Avenue, and thirty-one percent were rear-end crashes. Six percent involved pedestrians and bicycles.

The report recommends two main changes to the street. First, to reconfigure the street cross-section between Trailsway and Fordem Avenue (pending cooperation from the Village of Maple Bluff) from the existing four-lane street to a two-lane street with a center left turn lane and bike lanes, and second, to install pedestrian refuge islands at five high pedestrian crossing locations along the project corridor.

"Pedestrian safety is far and away the biggest traffic safety issue on N. Sherman Avenue," said North District Police Captain Cameron McLay. "This opinion is based on the fact that we identify traffic safety issues not just by crash rates per location, but also for those areas more likely to have serious harm result as a result of traffic problems. With residential properties all along N. Sherman, businesses scattered along the way and schools/parks both drawing child pedestrian activity across the street routinely, pedestrian safety is my greatest concern. The two lanes of traffic each way and its use as a commuter route makes this more stressful and potentially dangerous for pedestrians."

During a recent four-hour traffic enforcement effort at N. Sherman and Trailsway, the MPD Traffic Enforcement Safety Team (TEST) team stopped 40 vehicles for Failure to Yield to a Pedestrian at a controlled intersection/crosswalk.

The resolution recommending the changes, sponsored by eleven alders, can be found here: http://madison.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=1282786&GUID=CF39E... and the report can be found here: http://madison.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=2307038&GUID=8CF94D09-4349-...

The changes will be discussed and voted on at the following meetings:

Board of Estimates
Monday, February 18, 4:30 p.m.
Madison Municipal Building, Room 260

Board of Public Works
Wednesday, February 20, 4:30 p.m.
City-County Building, Room 108

Long Range Transportation Planning Committee
Thursday, February 21, 5:00 p.m.
Madison Municipal Building, Room LL-110

Pedestrian, Bicycle, Motor Vehicle Committee
Wednesday, February 27, 5:00 p.m.
Madison Municipal Building, Room 260

Common Council
Tuesday, March 5, 6:30 p.m.
City-County Building, Room 201

All of the meetings are open to the public and will take public comment.

  • Ald. Satya Rhodes-Conway, 608-242-4426