Janesville officials plan forum on two-way Court Street conversion

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Jake Magee
Thursday, September 14, 2017

JANESVILLEBy this time next year, Court Street likely will see two-way traffic.

The change will give downtown streets a different feel from just a year ago. Last October, crews finished converting Milwaukee Street to two-way traffic from Atwood Avenue to Locust Street. Jackson and Franklin streets downtown were converted to two-way years ago.

Two-way streets encourage a more downtown-like atmosphere, said Paul Woodard, city public works director. One-way streets tend to become racetracks, but two-way streets slow traffic and could increase property values, he said.

The city will host a forum Tuesday to inform residents about Court Street plans, gather feedback and answer questions, Woodard said.

The city's plan for years has been to convert Court Street to two-way traffic after Milwaukee Street's conversion. Parts of both streets approaching the Five Points intersection would remain one-way.

A small section of Milwaukee Street between Five Points and Locust Street is one-way. A larger portion of Court Street between Five Points and Academy Street also would remain one-way.

To make either street two-way to Five Points would require reconfiguring the Five Points intersection, which would cost "well over a $1 million," Woodard said.

Adjusting Five Points isn't in the city's strategic plan, but it's something officials could look at years down the road, he said.

Converting Court Street to two-way does have possible benefits besides safety.

The city plans to install bike lanes in both directions on Court Street, something that wasn't done during Milwaukee Street's conversion, Woodard said.

Converting Court Street also might allow more room for parking, which is what happened on Milwaukee Street. The parking stalls recently added on the Court Street bridge would remain, he said.

Not many businesses are located along Court Street, though there are a few empty storefronts. Most of the area is residential.

City officials don't want to convert Court Street to two-way east of Atwood Avenue because the street narrows. It wouldn't have enough room for two traffic lanes, two bike lanes and parking on one side of the street, Woodard said.

The Milwaukee Street conversion also doesn't extend east of Atwood Avenue because Milton Avenue naturally flows into Milwaukee Street at that intersection, he said.

Pending Janesville City Council approval, officials want to convert Court Street between mid-April and June. That would provide a convenient detour when the city replaces the Milwaukee Street bridge in October 2018, Woodward said.

Part of Court Street's conversion could include reconfiguring the intersection of Court, Cherry and High streets. One of the streets at that intersection could be closed off, he said.

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