Joint efforts between three government entities will bring some needed attention to three Wauwatosa school crossing zones, with one slated for a colorful rebuilding next year and two more being studied for possible improvements.
As part of the Zoo Interchange Project, the crossing at Glenview and West Wisconsin avenues will be updated in 2013, with full attention given to pedestrian safety, including broad, colored crosswalks.
Meanwhile, West Center Street between North Mayfair Road and North 124th Street and North 100th Street between Ruby Avenue and the north city limits will be the subjects of safety studies this year, with recommendations for improvements to come.
Those studies cover the routes leading to and past Madison Elementary School (North 100th Street) and Eisenhower Elementary, West High, and Whitman Middle schools (Center Street). They will be jointly funded by the city and the School District.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation will fund the rebuilding of the crossing at Glenview and Wisconsin.
Tim Anheuser of Forward 45, the public-private consortium created by the DOT to plan the Zoo Interchange Project, told the city's Traffic and Safety Committee Tuesday that special attention was paid in studying the Glenview-Wisconsin intersection to pedestrians — especially young ones.
"Due to the number of schools there, we wanted to get your feedback," he said.
Just about everything about the crossing will change, Anheuser said.
Left-turn lanes with timed arrows will be added, he said, and each lane from all four directions will have a dedicated traffic signal. The lights will be larger than current ones for maximum visibility.
Pedestrians will have "demand-driven" push-button walk signals, and the time allowed to cross will be longer.
The biggest change, Anheuser said will be the crosswalks themselves — 20-foot-wide bands of colored concrete will be installed and then striped with luminous expoxy paint. The crosswalks will be 8 feet wide, with the colored bands of concrete extending 6 feet to either side.
This is not new carpet we're choosing
Members of the safety committee met all the plans with approval, the only real debate being over what color concrete the crossing should be.
Ald. Jason Wilke asked what hue had been selected and hinted that he thought green would be nice since it would blend in well with the surroundings.
Anheuser said that the color was yet to be determined, and with that, green seemed to catch on with committee members.
However, Paulette Enders, director of economic development, chimed in that her experience with colored crossings in Sheboygan, green didn't show well when wet or in low light. Red, she said, stayed much more visible.
That was good enough for Ald. Dennis McBride, who said: "As March 17 approaches, I have an affinity for the color green — and St. Jude's is probably the most Irish place in town.
"But we should go with the most high-visibility choice."
Wilke also asked if bicycle lanes were part of the mix, but Anheuser said that with the addition of left-turn lanes there simply wasn't room for them.
He said that bidding on the project would go out in early 2013 with completion expected late that year or early the next.
The nightmare on Center Street
The proposed safety study of Center and 100th streets was an outgrowth of minor accidents last year that prompted Superintendent Phil Ertl to ask the city for some help, said Public Works Director Bill Porter.
"We sat down talked and really didn't come up with much," Porter said. "We decided we needed the services of a consultant specializing in school zone safety."
Because those discussions were taking place into November, he said, "there was no time to budget for it."
Porter asked for a transfer of $26,700 a city contingency fund to pay for the studies. The school district had offered to reimburse half the cost, he said.
"This is a no-brainer," said Ald. Bobby Pantuso, who earlier had called for such action after an accident near Longfellow Middle School, and he chided "the genius who decided to put three schools there" on Center Street.
Wilke concurred, and specifically referring to those three schools packed on West Center, he said, "For 50 years it's been a problem; it's time to take care of it."
The transfer of funds passed unanimously and will go to the full Common Council for approval.
If the studies conclude with any recommendations for colored concrete, the aldermen will already know which way to go — although picking Raider red in front of Trojan green West High could be a tough sell.