DOT approves Main Street design exceptions
By Angie Landsverk
Angle parking will remain on just about all of Waupaca’s Main Street when it is reconstructed in a few years.
“I’m excited to hear that,” said Brennan Kane, the city’s director of community and economic development. “Hopefully, the business owners will be excited to hear that as well.”
Kane made the announcement at the end of the June 6 common council meeting.
He told the council he learned Friday, June 2, that the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) awarded the design exceptions the city sought.
This means the city will get to keep front-in angle parking on Main Street as part of the reconstruction project.
The one exception will be the east side of the street, from Badger to Union streets.
There will be parallel parking on that side of the block, which was part of the hybrid parking design recommendation.
The city submitted the design request to the DOT after it qualified for $1.7 million in federal funding for the project.
That funding is through the Surface Transportation Urban Program (STP), which the DOT manages.
The DOT has a predisposition toward parallel parking but allows municipalities to seek exceptions to that design concept.
The city focused on the economic concerns of downtown business owners, as well as the older population in the area, when it wrote its application.
The city submitted its application around the beginning of 2017 and then waited to hear back from the DOT.
If the DOT had not granted the city request, it was prepared to resubmit a design exception.
That design exception would have been a concept of maintaining angle parking but using back-in angle parking instead.
A pilot back-in angle parking project began late last summer on one side of Union Street, between Main and Jefferson streets.
That pilot project is scheduled to be a topic at an upcoming common council meeting.
Kane said the city is probably one of less than five municipalities in the state getting to maintain angle parking as part of a project involving this type of federal funds.
Being able to maintain front-in angle parking is “extremely rare,” he said.
Kane credited one of the city’s consultants, Short Elliott Hendrickson (SEH), of Appleton, for its work.
The city did its due diligence, working with the public and the business owners, he said.
The reconstruction of Main Street, from Badger to Water streets, is scheduled to begin in 2021.
The project will include new utilities under the street, including sewer, water and stormwater.
City staff are recommending funding of $4.8 million, while designing the project for $5.3 million.
The proposed master plan for downtown was unveiled in April.
Since then, the city’s Steering Committee reviewed the first draft of the plan.
When the city’s Plan Commission met on June 7, Kane said the reconstruction of Main Street is the driving force behind the overall plan.
However, the city also wants to create a destination as part of the project.
That is why the proposed redevelopment plan includes streetscape ideas as well, such as bumpouts, green space and different lighting.
The plan sought to mesh the elements of industry and nature, Kane said.
“This is just a plan,” he said. “It will change as we go along.”
One aspect of the proposal that already appeared to change was the idea of incorporating something that looks like gears in the intersection of Main and Fulton streets.
The plan before the Plan Commission last week did not include that idea.
“As we go through the process, we’re trying to get a theme,” Mayor Brian Smith said.
He said they thought they had one.
“It didn’t thrill as many people as we thought it would,” he said of the initial idea.
Kane said there have been multiple meetings of the Steering Committee, and the Plan Commission voted to send the plan to the common council for adoption.
Kane described the plan as a guideline, saying many of the elements will continue to be reviewed over the next couple of years.