Tuesday, February 16, 2016

What you may not know: Week of February 15

Before I get started on the update, here's one final reminder that today, Tuesday February 16, is an election day. Across the state of Wisconsin we're voting today in a primary for a seat on the Supreme Court. You can use my.appleton.org to find your polling location, if you need help, and please remember that you'll need to bring photo ID.

With that said, I apologize for the fact that the remainder of my update will be rather brief. The Common Council meets in regularly scheduled session on Wednesday at 7 pm, and the primary item of interest on the agenda is the Highway JJ reconstruction I discussed in last week's update. Last week the Municipal Services Committee was asked to approve "Option 2" and came up with a 2-2 vote, so the item comes forward to council without a recommendation.

I continue to support that option and while I was unable to attend the committee meeting last week, I did send the following message to be read during the proceedings:

I'm sorry to report I'll be unable to attend tonight's Municipal Services Committee meeting due to a prior engagement. I hope one of my colleagues will be able to share the comments I have prepared below, and they can also be included in the meeting minutes if necessary.

Given the volume of time and additional resources spent researching options for this reconstruction, I'm disappointed to see this item returning to committee with no additional viable alternatives on the table. However, given the possibilities before us I would urge the committee to recommend approval of Option 2.

While I recognize some drawbacks in convenience, the safety considerations and traffic impact are quite clear: Option 2 is both the most convenient for pedestrians, meaning our pedestrian safety infrastructure is likely to actually get used, and this configuration allows for the safest set of options for vehicles.

I also feel that the crosswalk in Option 2 represents a safer option than its counterpart in Option 3. I strongly suspect that drivers turning left into Kwik Trip on Option 3 will not expect to need to stop for a crosswalk in the middle of their turn lane. Failure to stop could lead to collisions between cars and pedestrians, and having to stop before fully entering the turn lane could lead to rear-end collisions or traffic backups.

At the stakeholders meeting last week we heard a point that you may hear again tonight, that it would be possible to turn Option 3 into something resembling Option 2 at some point in the future. While I recognize that possibility, I have a hard time believing that we'll ever reach a point where we can make that transition without hearing many of the same objections we're hearing now. 

With all due respect to those who may disagree, I feel that Option 2 represents an opportunity to do this right the first time. Thank you for your consideration.
If council chooses to act on this item this week (which they may not), then their action will go as a recommendation to Outagamie County. As we're discussing a county highway, the county has the final say on the design.

You can see agendas for all of this week's meetings and the full schedule at the city's Legistar page.

Keeping you informed on issues that may impact you around the city is one of my primary goals as an alderman. Good governance happens in the open, and I remain committed to raising awareness on the issues coming before us.

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