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The nitty-gritty of Milwaukee's construction projects slated for 2023

60 new traffic calming projects are scheduled for 2023, four of them in major traffic corridors, according to the Milwaukee Department of Public Works
milwaukee roads
Posted at 9:45 PM, Mar 10, 2023

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee's Public Works Department is getting ready for its spring construction season to begin, and DPW officials say they have a full plate.

According to a news release on Friday, DPW along with help from Wisconsin's Department of Transportation will start the spring season off with projects including "traffic calming, pedestrian/bicycle safety improvements and curb ramps built to current Americans with Disabilities Act standards."

60 new traffic calming projects are scheduled for 2023, four of them in major traffic corridors.

What are the big construction projects planned for Milwaukee in 2023?

DPW outlined the projects as follows (verbatim):

WALNUT
Most significant among these is the West Walnut Street [city.milwaukee.gov] reconstruction project from N. 12th Street to N. 20th Street, anticipated to begin late March. The majority of the work including roadway and sidewalk will be completed in late 2023 with streetlighting and tree plantings completed the following year.

Project Benefits

The project includes raised crosswalks on stop-controlled side streets and curb extensions* (bump-outs) at intersections. West Walnut Street will be reconstructed from its current 4-lane divided roadway to a 2-lane divided highway through the majority of the project limits. A protected bike lane, separated from the travel lanes, will also be constructed throughout the majority of the project limits.

During construction

One lane of traffic in each direction will be maintained until mid-summer when westbound traffic on Walnut Street will be detoured using West Fond du Lac Ave. and North 20th Street while work is finished on the second side of the road.

VLIET

The West Vliet Street [city.milwaukee.gov] reconstruction project from N. 27th Street to N. 12th Street is anticipated to begin construction March 13. The majority of the work including roadway and sidewalk will be completed in late 2023 with streetlighting and tree plantings completed the following year.

Project Benefits

The project includes bump-outs at intersections and elimination of parking between N. 24th Street and N. 17th Street, to prevent illegal passing on the right. Bike lanes will remain as currently marked.

During construction

Traffic will be limited to only westbound through the project limits and fully closed to eastbound traffic. The public is advised to find alternative routes for eastbound travel. This summer, traffic will be switch to allow only eastbound travel with westbound travel being prohibited. Side streets will have short-term or long-term closures to through traffic.

HAMPTON

The West Hampton Avenue [city.milwaukee.gov] resurfacing project from N. 60th Street to N. 29th Street is anticipated to begin construction May 1. The majority of the work including roadway will be completed in late 2023 with streetlighting and signal equipment and street lighting completed the following year.

Project Benefits

The project includes pinned on bump-outs including incorporating these extensions into bus stops. The roadway will be resurfaced and new pavement marking will be placed including new bike lanes from N. 31st Street to N. 35th Street and refurbished bike lanes for the remainder of the project length.

During construction

One lane of traffic will be maintained in each direction.

HUMBOLDT

Additionally, the North Humboldt Blvd. [city.milwaukee.gov] reconstruction project from E. North Avenue to E. Keefe Avenue enters its second and final year. Construction began late the week of February 27 and is anticipated to be completed in late-May.

Project Benefits

The west side of North Humboldt Boulevard between E. Locust Street and E. Keefe Avenue along with the Locust Street intersection will be completed. In addition to the signal poles, lighting and signage –sidewalk on both sides of the roadway will be completed and bump-outs will be added at eight intersections.

During construction

One lane of traffic will be maintained in each direction.

“This will be a very busy construction season as these four major projects are among the dozens of traffic calming projects planned citywide. These corridor projects are an example of our customized approach to traffic calming depending on the needs of each neighborhood’s residents and visitors,” Commissioner of Public Works Jerrel Kruschke said.

Residents and businesses are encouraged to sign up for projects updates at the respective project webpages.

*Benefits of curb extensions

  • Increased pedestrian visibility by preventing people from parking too close to crosswalks 
  • Reduced crossing distances and decreased pedestrian exposure to motorists
  • Slower speeds by motorists making turns at intersections and driving along the corridor 
  • Prevents illegal passing on the right in the bike or parking lane.

50 newest DPW traffic calming projects in Milwaukee slated for 2023

By Shaun Gallagher

Traffic calming projects in Milwaukee slated for 2023

The City of Milwaukee has 50 new traffic calming projects slated for 2023, according to a new list acquired from the Department of Public Works (DPW).

"We are really ready to hit the ground running and construct a lot of things in '23," City Engineer Kevin Muhs said.

The new schedule of projects comes after completing 26 traffic calming projects in 2022. There are several projects on this year's list that were not completed last year, but there are some major projects coming that could drastically change certain corridors in the city.

Of the 50 projects, Aldermanic Districts 15, 7 and 2 will see the highest number of projects this year.

New DPW traffic calming projects for 2023
There are 50 total traffic calming projects slated for 2023, with some projects impact multiple Aldermanic Districts. Districts 15, 7 and 2 will see the greatest impact from this year's projects.

Muhs points out, these areas were not targeted, but the City's prioritization model helps identify areas of need through three factors; Use, Safety and Equity.

"We did look at areas that see the greatest impact from reckless driving, borne out generally by crash rates in those areas," Muhs said. "We looked at the Pedestrian High Injury Network locations and the socio-economic characteristics of the neighborhoods to determine where we make investments. It's perhaps not a surprise that specific districts ended up with quite a few projects than some others."

Muhs says there is a focus on five major projects in the city. The projects include resurfacing, Highway Safety Improvements (HSIP) and Reconstruction. These projects are generally funded by Federal or State funds because they are more intensive.

Major Traffic Calming Projects for 2023
These five projects are considered "major" by DPW. They will rebuild these roads and intersection looking totally different than what people are used to.

"It's exactly what it sounds like," Muhs said. "The biggest projects that involve full reconstructions of larger lengths of roadway or a substantial resurfacing usually on some of the bigger roads in the city."

On W. Hampton Ave. between 60th and 27th Street, there will be a resurfacing project including curb extensions, pinned-on curb concrete bumpouts and bus bulbs for in-lane boarding at several locations.

At N. 76th Street and W. Hampton Ave. the traffic calming measures will include the elimination of right turn slip lanes which should greatly increase safety for pedestrians crossing at the intersection.

"Sometimes people call them pork chops," Muhs said. "It's where you have a small triangle island that pedestrians can go out to and it allows people to make a right turn that's a little bit more protected from the traffic that is moving in the other direction. The downside of it and the reason we're working in many cases to remove them when we can is because it also allows [drivers] to take that turn much faster than they would be able to with a regular right turn lane."

Curb extensions are expected as part of the major project at N. Humboldt Blvd. from North to Keefe to help pedestrians as well.

In Aldermanic District 15th, there are two major projects on W. Vliet Street and W. Walnut Street. From 27th to 12th Street on W. Vliet, the project will eliminate some parking lanes and add curb extensions at several other intersections. On the eight blocks of Walnut Street between 20th and 12th Streets, it will look entirely different than what people may be used to.

"It's going to go to one driving lane in each direction," Muhs said. "We're going to be adding raised protected bike lanes as part of this design. We really think even though it's a short stretch, it will be a great asset for the neighborhood and for the area around it and also a bit of a showpiece for what we'll be able to do in the future."

It's a massive undertaking. Muhs explains the reconstruction here will take the current road down to the soil and rebuild it from there.

According to Wisconsin Community Maps, this stretch of Walnut saw 50 crashes since 2010, injuring 78 people. It's a snapshot of what all of these projects, small and large, hope to improve.

"We're reducing the number of driving lanes so the ability for more dangerous maneuvers and weaving is largely removed," Muhs said. "The intersections are going to be much smaller which does encourage people to make safer turning maneuvers and those sorts of things."

In addition to the major projects, there are roughly two dozen pinned-on concrete bumpouts in various parts of the city, lane reductions, traffic circles and even some specific improvements still yet to be identified, but locations are chosen.

This will likely be the last year the city's American Rescue Plan funds will be able to be used for these types of projects, according to Muhs. There are 15 projects funded by ARPA slated for this year.


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