Project Business 51
A deeper look at the proposed roadway
By Taylor Hale
STEVENS POINT – Members of the Business 51 Project Team held open sessions on March 2 & 4, on how the future roadway could be designed. The multimillion dollar project is intended to reshape the busy corridor into a safer, “multimodal-friendly” roadway. The city is working with engineering company AECOM to create plans for roadway design.
“We did see some different themes that came up,” said AECOM Associate Vice President of Transportation Amy Canfield. “There were lots of questions on what type of right-of-way modifications there may be, so we tried to talk through the different options that would be there.”
The corridor has been broken into three segments – north, central, and south. The north segment runs from Fourth Avenue to the Northpoint Drive roundabout. The central segment runs from Michigan Avenue to Patch Street. The south segment runs from the southern section of Church Street to Michigan Avenue.
Both a two-lane and four-lane option were proposed for the northern and southern segments, with the central section, near the city’s downtown, being proposed as a lane reduction to two lanes and a middle left-turn lane to avoid the acquisition of private property. The city could still acquire property for the project at this time.
A two-lane with a two-way-left-turn-lane in the south and north segments would minimize impacts to adjacent properties, meaning less, if any, properties would need to be acquired.
The project team focused on a “narrow road, wide node” concept, meaning reducing the lanes, but accommodating robust turn lanes and street signals. Canfield explained that a two-lane option would require less right-of-way, with the south segment needing .3 acres of land for right-of-way, and a four-lane option needing 1.3 acres.
The team said both options would help reduce the severity and frequency of crashes and accidents. The two-lane alternative would reduce the potential for right-angle crashes due to side street motorists only having to cross two lanes of traffic instead of four.
The projected costs for the project with a two-lane option come in at $45.3 million, and $49.7 million if the project includes a roundabout on Fourth Avenue and realigned intersections on Rice and Patch Street.
A four-lane with a raised median in the north and south segments would allow for more commuters on the road at once, but Canfield noted both options would adequately handle all traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian.
A four-lane road would require pedestrians to cross four lanes of traffic, rather than two.
Canfield added that a four-lane option would require the city to acquire additional private property.
“Right now, the public, in general, is more supportive of a four-lane option,” Canfield said.
Both the two and four-lane options would provide bigger terraces in the corridor; providing a larger buffer zone for pedestrians, and additional green-space for the city. The larger terraces could help with snow removal in the winter months by providing more space.
The projected cost for the project with a four-lane option rests around $49.1 million, jumping to $53.5 million with a roundabout on Fourth Avenue and realigned intersections.
The Business 51 Project Team encourages the public to look online for more information on the project on the city’s website, and submit their comments, concerns, and opinions by March 14.
The team will hold another public session and Q&A, announcing their recommended alternatives in May.
Construction on the project could start as early as 2023 and will be completed in multiple phases.
Learn more about the Business 51 project and submit your comments on the project on the city’s website at stevenspoint.com/1004/Business-51.