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District 19

Alder Keith Furman

Image of Alder Keith Furman,
Council President

Alder Keith Furman,
Council President

Contact Information

Council Office

Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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District 19 Blog

North Gammon Road: meeting results and next steps

March 23, 2014 11:36 PM

This summer the city has scheduled a resurfacing project for North Gammon from Tree Lane to the Middleton border. Also this summer, the city of Middleton will be chip sealing their portion of Gammon/Park St.) and remarking it to add turn and bike lanes.

The timing of these projects presents an opportunity to potentially change the layout of Gammon Road to try to solve some of the chronic problems on the street. Some of those problems include:

  • Traffic speeds: Even with the recent speed limit reduction from 35 to 30, 85% speed has only dropped from 43 to 40 MPH (in other words, 85% of vehicles are going 40 or faster).
  • Difficulty entering driveways to the left and difficulty exiting driveways
  • Narrow lanes over the hill
  • High numbers of crashes at intersections, especially Old Sauk

Before bidding the resurfacing project, Alder Skidmore and I asked our city engineers to review the corridor, develop some potential alternatives, make recommendations, and present this information at a neighborhood meeting.

The meeting was held on March 11 and was very well attended by 60+ people. Thank you again to everyone who attended. City Traffic Engineering gave a presentation (pdf) describing the current conditions and several short-term and long-term options.

First, the good news: the engineers are planning to add pedestrian refuge islands at the intersections with Colony, Farmington and Sawmill. They will also add at least one speed board at a location(s) to be determined. (Speed boards would be like the one on eastbound Old Sauk Rd. near Crestwood School.) These enhancements will certainly iimprove safety.

The bulk of the discussion at the meeting was whether to change the lane configuration. In the short-term, there are really only two options: three lanes (two travel lanes and one center left turn lane) or the current four-lane configuration.

Below I've summarized the pros and cons of each option; please refer to the presentation document for diagrams and further details.

Short-term options Pros Cons
3-lane (p. 22)
  • Possibly easier left turns
  • May reduce speeds
  • Inexpensive
  • Resolves narrow lanes
  • Diverts traffic to Yellowstone, Westfield and Pebble Beach
  • Increased risk of crashes at Old Sauk
  • Fewer gaps -- difficulty getting out of driveways and side streets
  • No bike facilities
  • Merging north of Tree Lane could cause crashes and backups interfering with Jefferson/Memorial/MATC

4-lane, as-is (p. 20)

  • Inexpensive
  • Driver familiarity
  • Maintains capacity
  • Narrow lanes
  • Feels like "doing nothing"
  • No bike facilities

As you can see, neither of these options has much going for it. The inability to add bike facilities is a particular disappointment to me. But any better option would require widening the road, which is a much more significant project that would need to be budgeted for, which could take five years or more. You'll find the long-term options on pages 31-36 of the presentation document.

Given a choice of two poor short-term options, our engineering team recommends that the road maintain its current four-lane configuration, and I concur. While the three-lane option is intriguing, there are too many potential negative consequences for me to recommend it.

The actual decision on configuration will be made by the entire Common Council, after getting recommendations by the Board of Public Works and the Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission. The first of these meetings is PedBike on Tuesday March 25 at 5:00 (agenda). If you have an opinion on which option (or others) should be considered, I encourage you to attend and testify. You will also have an opportunity to testify at Board of Public Works on April 9 (agenda not yet available).

My commitment to you:

  • I will continue to advocate for speed enforcement along the corridor with MPD
  • I will support whatever recommendation comes out of the two committees when the proposal comes to the Common Council (likely on April 15) even if it's different from mine. Either way it's just paint and could be changed again without huge cost.
  • I will advocate for a long-term widening project for North Gammon to be inserted in the city's Capital Improvement Plan as soon as feasible.

I want to again thank everyone who came to the March 11 meeting and those who have contacted myself or Ald. Skidmore on this issue in the last few weeks or over the years. Many people have advocated for improvements to this area and I'm not giving up either.

Please contact me if you have questions about the above or any other comments.

Ald. Mark Clear

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