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Janesville City Council gives OK to two-way

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
June 28, 2011
— A section of Milwaukee Street downtown will be converted from one-way to two-way traffic, but only after the street is reconstructed and only if a future council agrees.

The Janesville City Council on Monday voted unanimously to make traffic two-way from Main Street to just east of Five Points. Cost would be about $122,000.


But the conversion would not take place until after reconstruction of the Milwaukee Street Bridge and resurfacing of West Milwaukee Street, both of which are three to five years down the road.


“It’s a good time frame,” said longtime downtown advocate Jackie Wood.


Wood also said the Downtown Business Alliance did not want to burden the city with the cost of the project at this time, either.


Councilman Russ Steeber said he realizes business owners would like to see the conversion as soon as possible.


“Sometimes, I feel like we talk more than we act,” he said. “Sometimes, talk is cheap.”


Steeber said a future council could decide not to fund the conversion.


“(The vote) is telling the business owners that our intent is there,” he said. “We’re in this game together. Your investment in the properties is an investment in the future.


“It’s a step in the right direction,” he said. “A future council could very easily reverse this decision when it came time for funding.”


Councilman Yuri Rashkin said he doesn’t doubt the conversion would benefit the downtown.


“It’s surprisingly sad to find us here tonight, looking at being able to do the right thing and not necessarily having the money to do that with,” he said. “Even though we are not looking to put it in the budget, we believe this is the right thing to do.”


Councilman Tom McDonald said both Court and Milwaukee Streets should be converted to two-way streets, which is a Downtown Development Alliance goal.


“But it’s not going to happen right now,” he said. “Unfortunately, it’s not the time to do it. We don’t have the money to do it.”


McDonald worried, too, that a future council could “pull the rug out” from business owners and said he struggled with voting now.


But Steeber said a delay in action sends the wrong message.


“This sends the right signal to the business community that we’re here, we want to be a partner in those businesses and the downtown development,” he said.



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