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Road widening could have paths

Green Bay Road not safe for pedestrians

Sept. 8, 2010

Thiensville — Village officials are trying to make Green Bay Road safer for pedestrians, bikers and motor vehicles alike by installing pathways to carry nonmotorized traffic; residents living along the stretch aren't happy about giving up part of their yards to install it.

Residents weighed in on several options for the 2011 widening of Green Bay Road at a Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday night, with proposals including potential bike and pedestrian lanes receiving reluctant support.

Impacting a stretch of Green Bay Road from Heidel Road to the village limits, options include implementing a 5-foot wide bike lane on the west side of the road with a 4-foot grass terrace buffer, a more costly curb and gutter system with 4-foot pedestrian lanes on each side, or two 5-foot pedestrian lanes on each side. The pedestrian lanes would be adjacent to the traffic lanes; the bike path would be separated from traffic by the grass buffer.

Director of Public Works Andrew LaFond said Green Bay Road is dangerous for pedestrians and bikers in an area prone to speeders, and most attendees were receptive to the widening proposals.

"My son and I have witnessed countless near-misses," said resident Deb Martin, who lives on Green Bay Road. "It's clear that we need to get this project done in some way."

Making the community more accessible with an MATC campus minutes away was another factor in residents supporting biking and walking lanes.

"It's all about the quality of life in Thiensville for the next 20 years," said Jim Heyer, a member of the Mequon-Thiensville Bike and Pedestrian Commission. "The wider lanes give us safer access to mailboxes and will ease traffic congestion. It's all part of a comprehensive plan to provide more biking- and walking-friendly roadways to our community."

Others were concerned with the property loss involved in the proposals, and questioned the necessity of the bike and pedestrian lanes.

"Does every road need a bike path? It's a path to nowhere," said resident Roy Wetzel, adding that the proposals would cut through his roadside flower garden.

LaFond said in a later interview that all of the options would fall within the village's right of way.

Speed bumps featured in the proposals were met with opposition by residents who feared additional traffic congestion and hazards to emergency vehicles.

Village staff has submitted a proposal for the Surface Transportation Program funding, which requires any renovation project to feature 12-foot wide traffic lanes and two 5-foot bike lanes in order to qualify. Once the funds are awarded, an appeal for narrower lanes can be submitted.

Estimated cost for the submitted proposal is $412,600, pending STP funding. The grass terrace/bike path option is estimated at $339,800, and the curb and gutter option at $486,800 according to village documents. Under current guidelines, the latter two options would not be eligible for STP funds.

A discussion on funding for the road widening was not set as of press deadline. LaFond said STP funds are awarded Oct. 14 and will be a factor in the design selection. He said if awarded STP funds, construction will likely begin in July 2011; if the village solely pays for the project, construction would start earlier in spring.

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