Raised bike lanes, concrete islands installed on Milwaukee street meant to slow down traffic

From the Article:

A 17-block stretch along Walnut Street in Milwaukee has gotten a "first of its kind" makeover. The new design goes from Vel R. Phillips Avenue to North 20th Street on Walnut Street and is unlike any other street in the city right now.

"This was one where we were going to reconstruct the road, and this gave us the opportunity to kind of have a blank canvas," David Tapia, the city's Department of Public Works major project manager, said. "We were able to eliminate one of the travel lanes in each direction."

DPW said losing that one lane in each direction allowed crews to install protected bike lanes. One stretch has bicyclists off the road entirely and puts them on the same level as the sidewalk.

"We've got bump-outs, we've got raised crosswalks. We really started to implement a lot of the things that we wanted to do in totality on this project," Tapia said.

"What do you think of it?" WISN 12 News Hannah Hilyard asked a young man walking along Walnut Street Thursday.

"I think it's nice. I think it's more safe for the people who are riding bikes so people don't get hit by cars," Zechariah Malone responded.

At the intersection of North 6th and Walnut streets, crews installed more than a dozen concrete islands. Tapia said it's meant to slow drivers down as they make turns at the intersection and add "more locations that are protected for the pedestrian or bicyclist."

"If it betters the driving, and it looks better, I'm for it," Milwaukee resident Christopher Jones said.

Reducing the number of lanes and installing more bump-outs like this one has some residents concerned for snowplow drivers and how they'll maneuver along Walnut Street.

"We work with a fantastic group in our operations department and worked with them through the design process to make sure the width, even how we come in and out of these bump-outs, the fact we will now have these raised crosswalks," Tapia said. "Everything we do, we involve them through the process."

DPW said the project's point is to slow traffic down, making the roadway safer for all who use it.

"Take your time, understand where you're going," Tapia said. "Look for the pedestrians and bicyclists and make your maneuver safely."

Later this year, the city said it's looking to finish the project through North 2nd Street. There are also plans to install raised bike lanes on a portion of Wells Street downtown.

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