Milwaukee Street, Wright Road see lane changes
And, no, it wasn’t a plan to confuse motorists.
The freshly painted bike lanes on Wright Road and on both sides of a stretch of East Milwaukee Street heading downtown are attempts at reducing speeds and incidents of parked vehicles being struck by moving vehicles, said Jack Messer, director of the Janesville Public Works Department.
Before the bike lanes, the one-way stretch of Milwaukee Street between Garfield and Atwood avenues was two lanes with parking on both sides. Now, it’s one lane.
“The parking lanes and traffic were relatively close,” Messer said.
Historically, the tight quarters combined with excessive speed has resulted in many parked cars being crashed into or sideswiped, Messer said.
The number of such accidents reported along this stretch during the past few months wasn’t readily available Friday from the Janesville Police Department.
The resurfacing of this section of Milwaukee Street was an ideal time to address these traffic problems, Messer said.
“Every time we overlay a street we take a look at the conditions and try and put back a pavement scheme that suits traffic,” Messer said.
The decision to add bike lanes and drop one lane of traffic from this portion of Milwaukee Street and Wright Road wasn’t easy, Messer said. After looking at the problems and traffic volume in both corridors, the volume didn’t support a need for two lanes of traffic, he said.
By eliminating one lane and moving traffic to the center of the street, extra space opened on either side of the street, Messer said.
“The question became what to do with that space,” Messer said.
The bicycle lanes provide a safer situation for residents who park in the area, vehicles exiting driveways and kids playing in nearby yards, Messer said.
“Change generates discussion both positive and negative,” Messer said. “We encourage folks to give it time.”