Northpoint Drive to Become Four-Lane
By Brandi Makuski
Northpoint Drive is now formally a “no parking” zone.
City leaders last week approved amending a city ordinance prohibiting on-street parking along the Northpoint Drive corridor between Division and Second streets. The move will be a big change for north side motorists, but was a necessary one due to the high number of vehicle sideswipes that occur there.
“Obviously there’s a heavily- traveled area before and after school, and the number of accidents that occur there, well, they come in waves,” said Assistant Police Chief Marty Skibba. “Thankfully, there’s been no major or serious accidents in that area.”
Skibba said because of the wide dimensions of the road, some drivers use the roadway as a four-lane road, while others consider it a two- lane.
“It’s supposed to be driven like a two-lane, and we’ll have sideswipe crashes because someone’s sitting there waiting to turn left; someone else would come around to legally pass, then somebody else either comes out of a private drive or gets anxious and tries to pass at the same time,” Skibba said. “We’re trying to get the students safely in the school, and at the same time there’s so much congestion there. If we had it marked so people understand this is truly four lanes, everybody would be safer.”
He added parking along the street wasn’t a regular problem, but city leaders had to formally declare the roadway as a no parking zone before painting the roadway as a four-lane.
Alderman Mike O’Meara said the city was moving too fast and suggested instead conducting a traffic study of the block prior to making changes.
“How does removing the parking remove the problem? I think we have to really look at how that works; do we want a dedicated left-turn lane at SPASH? I think we need to do a comprehensive study on this instead of just saying, ‘we think this is going to work’,” O’Meara said.
Skibba suggested the change could be a short-term solution, but given the safety risks and man-hours the police department is currently devoting to the problem, he said the change should happen relatively soon.
Mayor Andrew Halverson referred to Northpoint Drive as having “unbelievable lane confusion” in front of the high school.
“There’s this unbelievable, uncalculated meandering that goes on, along with, I’m sure, occasional drag-racing at 7:21 AM that goes on, and that’s an issue,” Halverson said. “There isn’t any lane marking, and I’m not even sure there’s a center line.”
Halverson said a more comprehensive study of the road could be useful in the future, but clarification for drivers should be more immediate.
Dept. of Public Works Director Scott Schatschneider said the roadway would be painted as a four-lane as soon as possible.