Letter: Readers proposes new option for city’s Bus. 51 remodel

To the Editor-

Almost 10 years ago, the city’s administration announced that Business 51 had to be rebuilt due to deteriorated infrastructure (water, sewer, etc.) beneath the pavement. The administration encountered strong opposition to the proposed traffic/bicycle lane configurations, property acquisitions, etc. and ultimately the funds available for that project were shifted to the construction of the Hoover Avenue bridge over the railroad tracks.

Theoretically, single motor vehicle lanes can adequately handle northbound and southbound traffic along with additional bicycle and pedestrian accommodations. It may look feasible with computer modeling, but common sense causes me (and many others) to conclude otherwise. After all, computers can be programmed to produce any desired output.

In 2014, I proposed an alternative to the plan which I believe is still a viable solution. I suggested that the administration seriously consider utilizing Michigan Avenue for northbound and Division/Church Street for the southbound Business 51 upgrade and eliminate any thoughts of raised, un-mountable medians and curbs. Additional roundabouts should also be eliminated from the equation.

Although the driving public may eventually get accustomed to them, the one at Division and Northpoint created numerous fender-benders. There are two exceptions to this plan, which would make Division Street two lanes southbound and one lane northbound between Fourth Avenue and Northpoint Drive and to have a single southbound lane on Michigan between Patch and Church streets (where there is an adequate right of way).

Both Division/Church and Michigan could easily accommodate two lanes (three in some areas) of vehicle traffic plus bicycle lanes and expanded sidewalks. A minimal number of properties would be disrupted, thereby reducing relocation/acquisition costs.

Obviously, with this configuration, if you’re driving north on Michigan and want to go to a business or residence on Church Street, you’d have to cross-over to the west (or vice-versa). The primary cross streets could be Hefron, Rice, Patch, Dixon, Jefferson, Clark/Main, Maria, and Northpoint Drive.

Adequate signage would have to be provided to direct those unfamiliar with the area, but haven’t most of us ‘locals’ figured out how to get around town with our current one-way streets (ex. Clark/Main, Strongs/Church, etc.)?

Although their traffic counts are exponentially greater than ours, in New York City (with a few exceptions) the avenues alternately flow north and south while the traffic on the numbered streets alternate east and west. If it works for them (albeit hectically) it can work for us.

Accomplishing this plan would necessitate the acquisition of some real estate including the vacant land north of Walgreen’s (opening up the Michigan Ave. cul-de-sac), a portion of the Community Thrift Store parking lot, and a used car dealership to align Whiting Avenue with Rice Street (similar to what was done with Tommy’s Tpk. & Porter Road several years ago) and some right of way on the northside of Patch Street, however, no property along Division/Church Streets would be disturbed.

I realize that not everyone will agree with the foregoing concept, and that’s ok. If anyone feels they have a better idea, I’d suggest that they put it in writing and let us all know.

Bob Woehr
Stevens Point

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