Proposed Court Street conversion nearly doubles under new plan

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Jake Magee
Saturday, October 21, 2017

JANESVILLE—The people have spoken, and the city is listening.

City officials recommend the Janesville City Council on Monday approve converting Court Street to a two-way road from Academy Street near the Five Points intersection to Adams Street.

That stretch is almost double the length of the original proposal to convert Court Street between Academy Street and Atwood Avenue.

At a September community engagement forum, Court Street residents said they want to see two-way traffic east of Atwood Avenue. Residents said motorists often speed down that stretch of road, and making it two ways might slow them down.

City officials altered the plans and suggested extending the two-way conversion to Adams Street.

That change leaves less room for bike lanes, said Paul Woodard, public works director.

The city originally planned to install two bikes lanes from Five Points to Garfield Avenue. Between Atwood and Garfield avenues, staff proposed making Court Street a one-way road with on-street parking on the south side and two bike lanes, Woodard said.

Converting the stretch east of Atwood to two-way traffic wouldn't leave room for two bike lanes and on-street parking. Instead, the street would have a westbound bike lane, and eastbound bikes would have to share the vehicle lane, Woodard said.

Residents have voiced support for the planned bike lanes, which weren't included in Milwaukee Street's conversion to a two-way street last year.

City officials eventually want to add bike lanes along Ruger Avenue between Garfield Avenue and Wright Road. That would connect bike lanes from downtown to the east side of Janesville, Woodard said.

Besides the benefit bike lanes provide, two-way roads offer more of a “downtown feel.” They would allow room for additional on-street parking, slow traffic down and could increase property values, he said.

“The additional parking spaces will serve the purpose of making a visit to downtown Janesville a more convenient activity for all,” Woodard wrote in a memo to the council.

City staff's proposal to convert Court Street includes removing traffic signals at Jackson and River streets. The signals are at the end of their life cycles, and replacing them would be “extremely expensive” and unnecessary with the amount of traffic Court Street has, Woodard said.

The plan also includes closing off Cherry Street where it intersects with Court Street and making it a cul-de-sac, he said.

Residents have expressed concern about driving west down the Court Street hill toward Main Street in the winter, but Woodard said that's nothing to worry about.

“Court Street isn't any different than any other streets in the city that have a similar grade issue,” he said.

The project is estimated to cost $380,000 and will be paid for with tax increment financing money. If approved, work will begin in April and finish in June, Woodard said.

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