Committee: Leave Riverside Dr. as is

Cost estimates for river trail requested
Bill Livick

The Public Safety Committee last week decided to recommend that the Common Council leave Riverside Drive as a two-way street.

City residents and officials have been discussing the street after the city’s River and Trails Task Force recommended turning the street into a one-way drive. Task Force members felt the change would enhance pedestrian safety and provide greater access to the Yahara River.

But the city’s risk management team – the fire chief, the police chief and the EMS director – recommended leaving the street as it is. And the Public Safety Committee voted to go along with that recommendation.

Only one committee member, Ald. Tom Majewski (Dist. 4), voted against the recommendation.

He said he would favor closing the street to vehicular traffic altogether.

“I just felt it was a missed opportunity to enhance the quality of life in the community by removing an auxiliary road and giving everybody access to riverfront recreation and a better pedestrian experience,” Majewski said.

“My preference was to remove the road completely and not have it. My constituents were all over the board.

I approached it from the viewpoint that it’s the best way to enhance the quality of the recreational experience.”

But streets superintendent Karl Manthe also favored leaving the street two-way. He said it would be easier for snow removal, is an important outlet for emergency personnel, and he didn’t see a significant benefit to making it one-way.

The committee plans to ask city staff to get a cost estimate to put a trail on the side of the street where a guard rail exists for pedestrians.

Committee members discussed possibly extending the land toward the water in some way.

“Then they could possibly add a trail at that point,” Majewski said. “That’s fine. It’ll get done what the River Task Force had requested. I’m fine with that vote, but it’s not really the best thing.”

The Common Council is expected to discuss and possibly vote on the issue at its March 12 meeting.

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