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Plans moving ahead for reconstruction of Monroe Street on Madison's west side
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Plans moving ahead for reconstruction of Monroe Street on Madison's west side

Monroe Street crossing guard

A crossing guard helps students cross Monroe Street at Edgewood Avenue. Monroe Street is slated for reconstruction in 2018, an approximately $14.9 million project.

With reconstruction of Monroe Street on Madison's near west side approved in the city’s 2017 budget, plans are taking shape ahead of the 2018 construction start date.

The city will be reviewing the project's recommended cross section, the design of the street from one sidewalk to the other. Approving the design is the first step in a series of planning considerations including landscape design, specific locations for bike parking and streetscaping details, said Ald. Sara Eskrich, District 13.

Upcoming meetings to address the project include:

The recommended cross section would include two travel lanes, two additional lanes for parking or rush hour traffic and pedestrian amenities like flashing lights, countdown timers, crossing islands in high traffic areas and colored crosswalks. Street parking on both sides and narrow vehicle travel lanes, which also are considered pedestrian-friendly, are maintained in the plan.

Three intersections — at Harrison, Knickerbocker and Glenway Streets — will be raised, according to the recommendation. The design is meant to elevate pedestrians and slow vehicle speeds, according to the city’s engineering department.

Eskrich said the proposed cross section responds directly to the community’s concerns regarding pedestrian crossing and reducing speeds. The design also allows flexibility for future traffic demands and includes bike connections from the Southwest Commuter Path and Wingra Loop.

“In my assessment of all the feedback received throughout this process, the proposed cross section best addresses the key priorities of the most people, within the confines of the width of the street,” Eskrich said.

The design does not include dedicated bike lanes and or removing peak hour travel lanes, due to the width of the street and other transit and vehicle access priorities, Eskrich said.

Throughout the planning process, the public has had a chance to give input on the project at meetings and in a survey. Pedestrian access and safety was highlighted as a priority, with 54 percent of survey takers listing walkability as a main improvement area.

The reconstruction project has changed timelines over the years, first appearing in the 2008 adopted Capital Improvement Plan. In the city’s 2016 budget, the timing of the project changed to 2018. During this year’s budget deliberations for 2017, Mayor Paul Soglin proposed delaying the approximately $14.9 million project two more years, but the Board of Estimates reversed this with an amendment included in the final budget.

“Residents, businesses and the wider community have been waiting for years for this project and predictability for planning purposes is incredibly important, Eskrich said.

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