By Brandi Makuski
Marked bicycle lanes will no longer be included in the remaining phases of the Bus. 51 remodel though Plover and Whiting, according to the Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation.
The first phase of the $45-million project, from Green Ave. to Springville Dr. in Plover, was completed in November 2016, and does include marked bicycle lanes. But a new state law restricts how WisDOT acquires properties for roadway projects in the future.
WisDOT informed village leaders at the Jan. 17 Plover Village Board meeting.
“There was a recent change in state law for condemnation procedure; we can no longer condemn real estate if the purpose is to establish bike lanes,” said Kevin Kevin Kujawa, project leader from WisDOT.
The plan moving forward, he said, is to include a four-foot urban paved shoulder, with a painted edge, for the three remaining phases of the project between Springville Dr. and Minnesota Avenue. Kujawa said the rest of the plans—improved driving surface, raised medians, new sidewalks and dedicated turn lanes—continue to be the same.
Kujawa said the paved shoulder will still allow for bicyclists, and maintain space for motorists to pass other vehicles and turn at intersections safely.
Officials in Plover say they’re disappointed over the change, but plan to paint bicycle stencils along the four-foot path once ownership is transferred.
“Unfortunately, [WisDOT] they had no choice because the state passed legislation on bike lanes, and not being able to use [property] condemnation for bike lanes,” said Dan Mahoney, village administrator for Plover. “We aren’t able to mark it [with stencils] immediately, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if someone is riding a bike there, they’ll be using it as a bike lane.”
Kujaw said WisDOT still plans to include caution signs warning motorists of bicycles at the right-hand turn lanes at the Tommy’s Turnpike/Porter Rd. and County Rd. HH/McDill intersections.
The project, which widens the roadway to 32 feet, encompasses the entire arterial road through both villages, ending at the Minnesota Ave. intersection at the southern border of Stevens Point. WisDOT has acquired, and razed, several properties along the Bus. 51 corridor to make room for the new roadway.
Once the project is completed in 2020-21, the state will transfer ownership of the roadway to the respective villages.
The next phase of the project begins in July 2018, and will affect the section of road between Hickory Dr. and Minnesota Ave. Construction on that phase is expected to end in November 2019.