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Union Corners Planning Area Meeting Notes

Union Corners Planning Studio 
Meeting Notes 
September 14, 2004

  • Update on Development and General Development Plan (Todd McGrath). McGrath is working with Rayovac and DNR concerning control of the site and environmental cleanup.  McGrath received its letter of assurance (on environmental responsibility, etc.) two weeks ago, which will let them proceed with development. Next steps are environmental remediation and demolition, each of which should take two months. McGrath also applied for a Plan Commission hearing. The demolition process will involve recycling of materials where possible. Brick will be salvaged and re-used on-site. McGrath expects to submit General Development Plan (GDP) around September 23 or two weeks later. Response to question on dust (Dan Melton): Not anticipated, though McGrath will get back to neighbors and maybe hold a meeting with neighbors on issue. Response to question on whether availability of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds will be a problem for this project: probably not. There was news that the railroad might be willing to sell part of its right of way. McGrath is hoping to use DNR influence (railroad land also has need of remediation, high power lines underground). McGrath is purchasing the Unpainted Furniture store on East Washington Avenue. They are also interested in the Union House Tavern because of its historic value. The bike crossing of the railroad line will probably be at Jackson Street.

  • East Washington Avenue Reconstruction Update (Rob Phillips, Deputy City Engineer).  East Washington Avenue is being reconstructed in segments (Segment 1 from Blair to Thornton is already under way), and the segments that affect Union Corners are Segment 2, Yahara to Third Street in 2006, and Segment 3, Third Street to Marquette Street in 2007. Segment 1 will be complete around Thanksgiving. Pavement markings will be done in the spring. In response to the question on putting utilities (wires) underground: Foresee putting them underground at Milwaukee Street, but don't know yet. Engineering will work with McGrath (who is in favor of doing that). Underground utilities might be paid for in part with TIF funds.

  • Update on Roundabout Idea and Discussion (Dan McCormick, City Traffic Engineer). Installing a roundabout at Milwaukee and East Washington Avenue was brought up at the last meeting. In response, the City investigated the possibility of using this form of intersection. They talked to Mark Johnson of WisDOT who is an expert in this type of intersection, which is fairly new to Wisconsin and the U.S. Vehicle capacity issues: East Washington is at the high end of traffic volumes recommended for roundabouts. Space constraints: The right of way width of East Washington at this intersection is 130 feet. Roundabouts are typically 200' in diameter for the traffic volumes on East Washington. Thus private property would need to be acquired on all four corners to make this possible. Pedestrian/bike considerations: This would need to be a three+ lane roundabout (for East Washington's traffic volume), which is less bike and pedestrian friendly than single-lane roundabouts or conventional intersections. (That roundabouts are pedestrian and bike friendly at all is due to the fact that traffic must slow down to about 15 to 20 mph as it approaches the intersection.) The Association of Pedestrian Bike Professionals recommends using roundabouts with no more than one lane. Other considerations: Roundabouts offer benefits for safety in car-to-car accidents and for traffic flow. Examples of roundabouts: Mount Horeb, Depere, and Madison at Thompson Drive and Highway 30 (under construction).  Discussion: Did the City actually draw out the intersection to see what the dimensions would be? - No, we just modeled the traffic flows and estimated diameter needed. Do you have any examples from urban settings? - No, we could look for some. Would there be a problem with a bike lane on East Washington? - Would take the bike lane out of the road and have it follow a widened sidewalk. Would a bridge for pedestrians be considered? - City would tend not to do that in this situation, because one aim is to keep pedestrian traffic on the ground. Comments: Experienced roundabouts in Europe; they seemed to work well, but noticed that they were usually at the edge of town, not in the city center. Have seen a roundabout near a stadium, and it handled both pedestrian and vehicle traffic in high volumes. See roundabouts as a barrier to pedestrian movement. (Dan) City will look more into design, and will bring it up at the next inter-agency committee meeting on the East Washington reconstruction.

  • Union Corners Area Proposed Traffic Calming and Safety Measures (Dan McCormick). Handout: "Union Corners Redevelopment Proposed Traffic Calming and Safety Measures" (four pages). The handout presented 10 traffic calming and safety proposals, including their status and the next steps needed to achieve them. They would be presented in conjunction with the GDP. All except #8 have consensus support from the Studio. Traffic Engineering supports all of them, except for #1, in which situation they would typically recommend a conventional intersection (in accordance with the 'open grid' approach to street network design). Traffic Engineering is, nonetheless, willing to implement #1 if required funding and neighborhood approvals are obtained. Implementation of most of these proposals is contingent on obtaining funding and neighborhood approvals (neighborhood meetings, Neighborhood Traffic Management Program (NTMP), and/or Arterial Pedestrian Enhancements Program).

  • Proposal #1: Sixth Street and East Washington - Special median for no left turns in/out of residential side

  • Proposal #2: Sixth Street/Packers Avenue/East Washington - Traffic Calming (circles and/or humps)

  • Proposal #3: Sixth Street and Johnson Street Traffic Safety Island - Arterial Pedestrian Enhancements

  • Proposal #4: Third Street/Johnson to East Washington - Traffic Calming (circle and humps)

  • Proposal #5: Third Street and Johnson Street Traffic Safety Island - Arterial Pedestrian Enhancements

  • Proposal #6: Winnebago Street/Sixth to Second - Traffic Calming (circles and/or islands). This would be planned in conjunction with the Winnebago Street NTMP application now under preparation

  • Proposal #7: Winnebago Street/Sixth to Second Street - Reconstruction/Street Narrowing

  • Proposal #8: LaFollette Avenue/Division Street Intersections with Winnebago and Railroad - Intersection re-orientation/closure. A new intersection would be built to intersect both the railroad and Winnebago at angles closer to perpendicular. Includes the proposed Jackson Street bike/pedestrian crossing of the railroad right of way.

  • Proposal #9: LaFollette Avenue/Winnebago to Waubesa -Traffic Calming (circles and/or islands)

  • Proposal #10: Milwaukee Street/East Washington to Marquette Street - Traffic Calming; Pedestrian Enhancements; On-Street Parking Additions

  • Questions: (Judy Olson) When will McGrath go to City for TIF funding? - (Todd) Would like to start first phase in 2005. Can parking changes on Milwaukee St. be done soon? - (Dan) Yes. Will any of these proposals affect East Wash reconstruction? (Rob) Design issues need be resolved by end of 2004, however, options can be accommodated if planned for. So the option to build the Sixth Street and East Wash intersection with a special median could be held open. Comments: Suggest pushing #2 along, because residents are getting angry this approved project hasn't been built.

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