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Colorful crosswalks planned on Hwy. 100

But only along small stretch of road

Aug. 1, 2012

The state plans to install colored concrete crosswalks in Mayfair Road at Watertown Plank and Bluemound roads and Wisconsin Avenue as part of the improvements to local roads that will be impacted by heavier traffic during the Zoo Interchange reconstruction.

However, three more intersections farther north on Mayfair Road — also known as state Highway 100 — won’t see the same treatment, at least not in the near future.

Wauwatosa's Traffic and Safety Committee on Tuesday voted, 4-1, against petitioning the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to install colored concrete crosswalks along the stretch of Mayfair Road between Walnut Road and Burleigh Street, where construction is already under way.

Unlike the southern intersections that are being paid for as part of a $47 million DOT project, the cost of colored crosswalks and related traffic controls at North Avenue, Center and Burleigh streets — about $250,000 — would be charged to Wauwatosa, city Public Works Director Bill Porter said.

At this point, the city’s 2013 Capital Improvement Program has no money slated for such an undertaking.

Plans came too late

Part of the problem is that work in the section between Walnut and Burleigh was far along by the time a DOT-led Community Sensitive Solutions group of local stakeholders determined colored concrete crosswalks were desirable,   Porter said.

In addition, the northern intersections are asphalt, on which color won’t provide the same contrast and visibility, City Administrator James Archambo said.

At this point, installing colored concrete crosswalks would be mean digging up paving work that has just been finished and closing down roadways again.

Crews are being pushed to get that section of Mayfair Road done before Thanksgiving when the holiday shopping season begins, so any concrete installation would wait until spring, Porter said.

The project can as easily happen a few years down the road, albeit perhaps for more money, Archambo said.

Irritated at 'mish-mash'

Members of the Traffic and Safety Committee, as well as the Budget and Finance Committee that discussed the issue later in the evening, wanted to see some continuity along the entire Mayfair Road corridor.

“Now it’s kind of mish-mash,” said Alderman Brian Ewerdt, who represents the area around the mall. “Somebody didn’t have a big picture look at this whole main vein, and that’s kind of frustrating.”

He was opposed to spending the money for colored concrete, but advocated talking to local state representatives to see if changes could be made to project plans so Mayfair Road “doesn’t look like patch work.”

His counterpart representing the 6th District, Alderman Jeff Roznowski, supported intersection improvements at Mayfair and Center, where numerous schoolchildren cross the street. However, he didn’t want to be pressured by the DOT to immediately find the dollars.

Alderman Jason Wilke, chairman of the Traffic Committee, said the cost of enhancing the intersection is warranted in the Mayfair District. He advocated “complete streets,” which take into account pedestrians and bicyclists, not just motorists. His was the vote opposed to turning down colored concrete crosswalks in the northern section.

“It’s a wake-up call that when projects come through, we expect a certain standard,” he said. “We are more than just asphalt and white paint, we care about the pedestrian safety and character of our streets.”

More improvements to come

He took solace in the city’s upcoming Mayfair corridor study that could incorporate streetscaping and branding as part of its scope. Then money could be allocated in future budgets as is being done following district plans in East Tosa and the Village.

Later in the evening the Budget and Finance Committee did unanimously recommend signing an agreement with the state to improve the 1.1-mile stretch of Mayfair Road between Interstate 94 and Watertown Plank. The agreement will go to the Common Council next week.

Construction to widen the road to four lanes in each direction, install signals that will be linked for better traffic flow and energy-efficient street lighting, put in a new traffic signal at Mayfair Road and Wisconsin Avenue, improve medians and add wayfinding signage is covered in the agreement. The city will be responsible for $759,000 in water and sanitary sewer upgrades before the new road is laid.

If the Community Sensitive Solutions — including colored concrete and striping at crosswalks, plantings, and signage — to improve the area’s aesthetics come in at a price tag higher than $925,000 then Wauwatosa is responsible for the overages, Porter said.

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