Summer traffic flow to be studied
By Angie Landsverk
Two downtown Waupaca intersections will temporarily become four-way stops again.
The intersections of Main and Fulton streets and Main and Badger streets will have flashing red signals, with temporary stop signs being added as well this time to make drivers aware of it.
This second pilot project will take place for a two to three-month period between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
The Waupaca Common Council approved it when it met on April 17.
“We’ll run it just like last time,” said Justin Berrens, the city’s director of public works.
That means the right turn lanes from Fulton Street onto Main Street and from Badger Street onto Main Street will be temporarily removed just as they were during last fall’s pilot project.
Orange cones were placed in those right turn lanes the last time.
The city plans to do so again, and to also remove the right turn markings on the pavement.
One council member suggested orange barrels be placed in the lanes.
Scott Purchatzke noted some drivers hit and knocked down the cones but might be less likely to do that to the larger barrels.
The pilot project is related to the city’s planned reconstruction and redesign of Main Street in 2021.
A goal is to create a downtown environment that is safe and pedestrian friendly.
The plan proposes curb extension bumpouts and intersections as a way to make the downtown more walkable.
The bumpouts would decrease the walking distance between streets, slow vehicular traffic down and provide spaces for gathering and focal points.
A traffic study conducted by one of the city’s consultants concluded there is no need for the right turn lane at Fulton and Main streets.
The city’s Downtown Master Plan includes the removal of it.
Eliminating signalized intersections at these two intersections is seen as another way to improve walkability nd make pedestrian movements safe.
One council member asked how pedestrians know when to cross a street under this scenario.
Alderman Paul Mayou said he crosses at Main and Badger streets just about every day and found it easier to cross there during last fall’s pilot project.
One of the city’s consultants for the Main Street project recommended the city conduct the pilot project.
The first pilot took place over about six weeks during October and November.
City staff worked with business owners to gather data and placed a survey on the city’s website to get feedback from residents.
The city received more than 300 responses online, with the results a 50/50 split on how residents felt about the pilot.
Brennan Kane, the city’s director of community and economic development, said a comment staff heard often was some thought the city did the pilot at the wrong time of the year.
Since it took place after Labor Day, many believed the city did not capture the increased traffic seen in the city between Memorial Day and Labor Day, he said.
Berrens said the city did the pilot project during the off peak time, because it had questions about how it would affect downtown traffic.
City staff will again watch and be able to pull back on the pilot if necessary, he said.
With reconstruction of the parking around City Hall taking place this summer, Kane said the city will also watch how that affects traffic and make adjustments if needed.
City staff will again conduct an online survey and work with business owners to gather input and data related to visitors.