The city of Stevens Point is soliciting input from residents about upgrading Division and Church streets from the north city limits to the south city limits.
The city had scheduled a public information meeting for the corridor study for Business 51 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, May 16, at Jefferson Elementary School, 1800 East Ave., Stevens Point, to discuss preliminary alternatives developed to address the deficiencies which necessitate the project.
Mayor Andrew Halverson said input is necessary because the project will likely be extremely expensive, depending on the degree of reconstruction the city would undertake because the state Department of Transportation appears unwilling to spend any funds on the project. The project wouldn’t begin until 2016 at the earliest.
Bruce Gerland, project manager for AECOM, the engineering firm that did the preliminary design alternatives, told the Board of Public Works Monday, May 13, the pavement along the route is 50 years old, and the street has narrow lanes that vary from nine to 12 feet. The desirable minimum width for new roadways is 12 feet, he said, designated truck routes require at least one 12-foot lane.
The average annual crash rate for the corridor is 1.8 times the state average for similar roadways, he said, and some segments have crash rates as high as 4.6 times the state average, especially the intersections at Fourth Avenue, North Point Drive, Franklin Street and Nebel Street.
The next stages of the project would be detailed alternatives and then a preferred alternative, he said, and the city could decide against building or accepting four-lane alternatives with a raised median or turning lanes, or a two-lane alternative for a narrow urban road with significant impacts.
The study had considered one-way pairs, using Business 51 and Michigan for one-way streets, he said, but ruled that out because of the distance between the two streets.
He said the two-lane alternatives would require as few as 13 residential and six or seven business relocations, while the four-lane alternatives would require up to 49 residential and 13 business relocations.
Halverson said the middle third of the project area is where the greatest impact would come, from about Fourth Avenue to Dixon Street. “That’s where it is pretty narrow,” he said.
And regardless of what the city does to widen the road, he said there would still be a bottleneck because CN (Canadian National railroad) has no plans to widen or enlarge the Church Street underpass in the immediate future.
Gerland said the railroad underpass is “an extremely expensive structure,” possibly $25 million alone to replace it.
One of the avenues the city could take, Halverson said, is for the city to refuse any state or federal money for the project, which would require the purchase of right of way to meet the standards for pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
“We are not ruling anything out at this point,” he said, “but we’re concerned with the center one-third and historic residences. We want to be the least disruptive as possible. We have to look at all the alternatives.”
Depending on the number of buildings that would have to be removed, Halverson said the project could cost about $40 million (excluding the railroad underpass). “We are looking for public opinion on how much does a green median with decorative lights mean, or can we retain the existing four lanes. We want to hear different viewpoints.”
Information about the study can be viewed on the city’s website at stevenspoint.com/construction.
Persons who were unable to attend the meeting can make their comments by contacting the Stevens Point director of public works, Scott Schatschneider, at 1515 Strongs Ave., Stevens Point, WI 54481; or at 715-346-1561 or by e-mail at SSchatschneider@stevenspoint.com.