Letter: Look to the future of Bus. 51

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To the Editor-

It is high time that our common council stops creating road jams with road diet agendas and seldom-used bicycle lanes.

I live a half block from Division Street and I hear sirens from fire trucks and ambulances going south on Division Street 24 hours a day. The city wisely built the fire station in a central location on a four-lane street so that emergency vehicles could exit their driveway easily and safely to respond to emergencies more quickly without bottlenecks that increase response time.

Mary McComb said that the northern segment of Business 51 should not remain four lanes because it is one of the city’s fastest developing high-density areas, and needs to be more pedestrian friendly. Let’s examine that.

First and foremost, the northern segment of Division Street is a business thoroughfare and has been for over 60 years. It is the main artery leading to Sentry Insurance, SPASH, and UWSP, all of which increase traffic flow. In addition, there are hotels along this route for a reason; Stevens Point is an events and convention hub, significantly increasing visitor traffic flow. Visitors don’t park at the hotel and walk to Riverfront, they drive.

Let’s not forget, SentryWorld is hosting the 2023 U.S. Senior Open. Can you imagine the volume of people coming into the city and the revenue our businesses will receive from this? Do you think this will be repeated if we reduce traffic flow and make it harder to navigate the city?

As for fast-developing high-density areas, I assume she’s referring to the new large apartment complexes already built and/or under construction and those being planned in that area. As a candidate for District 9 in 2019, she supported these developments as they are more amenable to “non-auto users.” She also spoke of “traffic justice,” whatever that means.

She fails to mention that these developments increase congestion on streets in the areas where they are located. Nor does she consider that if a major fire broke out in one of these complexes, we would need greater road access for emergency vehicles to respond to them. Why would you want to reduce the number of traffic lanes that serve them?

Ms. McComb made her intentions clear. She would reduce automobile traffic and force people to walk or ride their bikes regardless of the negative effects it will have on our city’s commerce and development. More road diet, more Green New Deal—reducing carbon emissions.

This section of Division is an excellent roadway for traffic and pedestrians; it is four lanes with a left and right turn section to enter businesses and has great sidewalks. It is safe and well developed. We have a large volume of car traffic throughout the Business 51 corridor, with only one area of concentrated pedestrian traffic near the university, primarily at the 4th Avenue intersection. This crossing is controlled by traffic lights and has no history of pedestrian-related accidents. She advocates for a solution in search of a problem.

We need to plan for the future and develop our infrastructure to attract new businesses. If we create bottlenecks for traffic in our city they will go elsewhere. We need to look ahead and keep the entire Business 51 corridor at four lanes in order for our city to grow and prosper.

Mark Hemmrich, Sr.
Stevens Point