Janesville City Council mostly approves Court Street conversion

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Jake Magee
Tuesday, October 24, 2017


Two-way traffic for Court Street is officially coming, but some of the finer details have yet to be hammered out.

The Janesville City Council on Monday approved two-way traffic for Court Street but wanted some of the city's proposed plans related to the project re-examined.

The city recommended the Court Street conversion run from Linn Street to Adams Street, which the council agreed with. City staff also wanted to:

-- Turn Cherry Street just south of where it intersects with Court Street into a cul-de-sac to make the nearby intersection of Court and High streets safer.

-- Add two-way bike lanes from Academy Street to Atwood Avenue and a westbound bike lane between Garfield and Atwood avenues.

-- Remove two sets of stoplights on Court Street where it intersects with River and Jackson streets.

The council and a few residents took issue with those plans, prompting the council to direct city staff to revisit them for later discussion and action.

The city recommended turning Cherry Street into a cul-de-sac instead of the nearby High Street because Cherry Street ends at Court Street whereas High Street continues through. Closing Cherry Street would remove parking spots from the area, said Paul Woodard, director of public works.

Turning High Street into a cul-de-sac and keeping the Court and Cherry streets intersection untouched is possible, but it's not as desirable or safe for motorists, he said.

A resident who owns buildings near the Court and Cherry streets intersection logged his concern with that plan. Losing the parking spots and access to Court Street could hurt his business, he said.

The council instructed the staff to further investigate making High Street a cul-de-sac or turning Cherry Street into a one-way southbound road that still intersects with Court Street.

Between Atwood and Garfield avenues, the road is too narrow for two-way traffic lanes, two bike lanes and maintaining on-street parking on the south side of the street. The city proposed adding a westbound bike lane along that stretch of Court Street with the understanding eastbound cyclists could share the lane with traffic or use the parking lane when open.

One resident suggested instead putting in an eastbound bike lane to complement the westbound bike lane on Milwaukee Street. It's another suggestion the city will examine at the council's direction.

Woodard said the stoplights at the intersections of River and Jackson streets with Court Street are at the end of their life cycles and expensive to replace. On top of that, they're no longer warranted with the amount of traffic that passes through them, prompting the city to recommend removing them.

Councilman Paul Williams said he'd feel more comfortable if the Jackson Street traffic signals remained. Keeping them would be friendlier and safer for motorists than stop signs, he said.

One plan the city suggested and the council approved is altering the intersection of Ruger Avenue, Garfield Avenue and Court Street.

The city plans to re-route Ruger Avenue into Court Street to form a T intersection east of the current one to eliminate the five-way intersection there. Council members asked several questions about the plan but eventually agreed with the city's recommendation.

Williams and Councilman Jens Jorgensen voted against approving the plan and directing the city to further research the three issues. Both said they felt more comfortable approving an entire project all at once instead of a step at a time.

Woodard and city staff will re-examine the issues and return to the council by its second November meeting, Woodard said.

Work on Court Street is expected to begin in April and finish in June. The project is projected to cost $380,000 and be paid for by tax increment financing money, he said.

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