Reconstruction of North Avenue is scheduled to begin Monday, July 7, if the weather cooperates. Projected to take about three months, the new road between 60th Street and Wauwatosa Avenue will include bike lanes, median islands, and single-lane traffic without left-turn lanes.
North Avenue will stay open for nearly the full reconstruction project, at times using parking areas as lanes, City Engineer Bill Wehrley said. For the final paving, parts will be shut down completely.
Alderman Joel Tilleson, whose district includes part of North Avenue, said he thinks the inconveniences will be worth the product.
"As with any project there will be headaches with lane reductions and orange cones to navigate around, but the end result will be beautiful," Tilleson said. "It will be the coolest 20 blocks in metro Milwaukee."
The project will result in a straight trip down North Avenue, removing the sway in traffic caused by left-turn lanes called chicanes. It will also include more street parking, and several improvements for cyclists and pedestrians.
In addition to green-painted bike lanes, some intersections will feature red crosswalks, median islands, and "bike boxes." The boxes branch off the bike lanes across traffic to help bikers make left turns.
The city is considering extending the bike lanes west of Wauwatosa Avenue to the Menomonee River Parkway. In April, the Community Development Authority approved a $20,000 study by Ayres and Associates to look at the possibility. Wehrley said that study is just beginning.
Alderman Bobby Pantuso said he hopes the changes encourage more foot traffic and slow down the car traffic.
"People who use North Avenue as a cut-through are going to start looking for alternative routes," he said. "I'd like traffic going down North to be people that want to go to businesses there."
Another side-effect of the reconstruction will likely be a detour for the East Tosa Gran Prix bike race, which avoids median islands on its courses. Josh Fulfer of the East Tosa Alliance said future courses will probably still incorporate parts of North Avenue and run through the same area of town.
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