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Community weighs in on future safety improvements on Oklahoma Ave.

"It sees a high number of serious injuries and fatal pedestrian crashes compared to other streets in the city."
Oklahoma ave
Posted at 9:26 PM, Nov 10, 2022

MILWAUKEE — The City of Milwaukee is starting a project to improve safety along Oklahoma Ave. between 27th and 6th streets. Mike Amsden with the Department of Public Works (DPW) says the corridor is on the city's pedestrian high-injury network.

"Which means it sees a high number of serious injuries and fatal pedestrian crashes compared to other streets in the city," Amsden explained.

That fact comes as no surprise to Tracy Alvarez who has lived in the neighborhood for 16 years. Her kids grew up going to Zablocki Elementary School on Oklahoma and 10th.

"I don't drive on Oklahoma or 13th, and I live right here. I use it the least amount possible. I'd rather detour and go safer. My kids, I tell them not to walk on Oklahoma or 13th either," Alvarez said about the reckless driving in the area.

She was at a community meeting and walk hosted by DPW to get community input about potential safety improvements. During the walk, residents expressed the most frustration when using the crosswalks to get across Oklahoma. Cars rarely and reluctantly stopped for the walkers.

Crossing Oklahoma Ave.

"That's really scary. Imagine being a child trying to get to school. There's actually been cross guards that have been hit," Alvarez said. "There's businesses on the corner, so you have kids running across to go get a soda or ice cream. You have elderly walking to Walgreens... but they have to play chicken or frog going across the street just to do a simple errand."

The city said improving pedestrian safety is its number one goal, but is looking to improve safety all around for bikers, drivers, and users of public transportation.

Potential safety improvements for Oklahoma Ave.
Potential safety improvements for Oklahoma Ave.

"Things like adding bump-outs or pedestrian refuge islands, perhaps taking out a lane of traffic in each direction," Amsden said about some of the plans the city has in mind. "Anything we can do to bring speeds down to speeds that are appropriate.

Thursday's community meeting and walk was the first step in the plan to improve safety. The city hopes to complete the project by 2024. For information and to get involved with potential improvements, head to EngageMKE.com.

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