Last Wednesday night I attended the Calhoun Road South Public Information Open House, where I spent a good deal of time speaking with 2 representatives from R. A. Smith (the firm designing the roadway). I expressed my disapproval of their plan; they both enthusiastically defended their design. I can see why someone who was not familiar with the area might think that their rational made sense, but to me and many others, this project is just OVERENGINEERED and OVERPRICED!
This was the 3rd open house for Calhoun south. About 85 residents attended—pretty good for a summer meeting. (Approx. 140 attended the 1st and 2nd open houses.) Comment forms were passed out in the info packet from R. A. Smith. I was told that they would also be available on the city website, but I could not find it there. If you need a form, just email me firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send it and a detailed list of concerns to you pronto. Comments must be received by Friday, June 30th.
Please take the time to send in your concerns regarding this project. Remember: it is a south side issue but a city wide expense. WE ALL GET TO PAY FOR IT and it will be much more than the $11 million estimate!
Also, don’t think that once Calhoun south is finished that it will be the end of these expensive road projects. ALL of our major roads—North Ave., Barker, Brookfield, Calhoun north, etc. will face this. IS this what we want? Is this what your neighborhood wants? Send in the comment forms. While you are at it, email the aldermen too—they will be the ones granting final approval.
My first objection was the traffic study. Their numbers did not equal my experience. Last year, when I heard that they were planning the widening, I started to use Calhoun south during rush hour. My experience was that it was a good way to avoid the heavy Bluemound congestion. I did not find it to be solid bumper to bumper traffic as they infer. The 3 aldermen—Chris Blackburn, Jerry Mellone, and Lisa Mellone--from district 6 & 7 have delved into the studies and found errors. First, the years the study started, 2000 &2001, were years Greenfield was torn up from 124th to Calhoun. Of course traffic on Calhoun would be higher those years; people living west of Calhoun on the south side avoided Greenfield east of Calhoun and used Calhoun more to connect to other east/west streets. The other thing the 3 aldermen found was that the 2% of growth was too high a multiplier. This has resulted in the projections exceeding the actual by about 3,000/day. You can see that if you just took the numbers presented by the engineers, you would form a different opinion than if those same numbers were probed for accuracy.
Secondly, the perception or size/scope of the road to me is OVERKILL for a primarily residential area. I had mentioned to the city and RA Smith engineers at previous open houses that the width of the roadway appeared to me that they were building an interstate! They said that it was not that wide. But when I looked at their cross sections for Calhoun north of the freeway, it measured 86’ in width from the paved edges east to west (roadway only—not bike/walk paths). This would accommodate a 2 lane, with 10’ emergency lane, no median interstate (the kind with dividing barriers in the middle). South of the freeway it measures 76’-- just 6’ shy of interstate width. The R. A. Smith engineer had to admit that the perception of the wider road would lead drivers to exceed the 35 mph speed limit. Alderman Blackburn first told me of this phenomena—there are studies that prove it to be true. I am sure you have noticed it yourself on the new section of Calhoun. Plus the entire roadway speed limit will be increased to 35 mph. Currently, it is 25 mph south of the freeway. How is increasing the speed limit going to make it safer?
When I asked the engineer what would be the harm of just repaving and making a few turn lanes, he said that it would not be safe; you would have bumper to bumper rear end accidents. I heard the accident rate from the past *6 years has been 7 incidents—4 of those deer related!*-- This was incorrect, the actual numbers were 21 from 2001 - 2004, 7 were rear endings (the type the engineers are so concerned about, 5 of the 21 were deer related. The actual traffic study reported, "Despite these observations, the annual crashes and crashes by type are relatively low and do not constitute a significant safety problem." The crash rate is 176 / 100 which is lower than the statewide average for urban streets of 260 per 100 million vehicle miles.
I live off of Sunnyslope Road, where we do have bumper to bumper traffic at rush hour due to Bishop’s Woods office park—a 100 acre complex of offices between Elm Grove Rd. and Sunnyslope. We seem to be able to handle the traffic on 2 lanes.We all know the real reason for a project of this size is to accommodate VK’s new development—what ever that will be.
Does it make sense to construct this expensive road only to have construction traffic destroy it? IF it needs to be this size to accommodate VK’s development, WHY ISN’T HE PAYING FOR IT? Shouldn’t we know what he is planning before we construct the road? Cost estimates for the project of $11 million do not include the cost of the new I-94 bridge—thought to cost $4 to $5 million alone, nor do estimates include the temporary bridge. (Bridge replacement costs are not usually a city expense!)
One new ridiculous addition to the project I noticed this time was the addition of TURN LANES from the side streets. That is right; a separate lane to turn left or right onto Calhoun Road. (Some of these streets only have a block or two worth of residences.) What are they thinking? I think this illustrates that engineers just like to, well, engineer: the bigger and more complicated the better!
Don’t forget that historic Ruby Farm will be destroyed if the project proceeds as planned. Momentum is growing to save the historic homestead.
The medians—a whopping 24’ in width—will force motorists to make numerous dangerous U-turns just to enter their homes. The Mobil gas station and 405 building will have NO NORTHBOUND access to their businesses because of the median.
A TWLTL (two direction shared center left turn lane) would allow for left turn vehicles to wait for an opportunity to complete their turn, out of traffic, without encroaching as much on private resident’s frontages. Adding a TWLTL and 5’ grass terrace with 6’ bike/walk path would result in a 62’ Right of Way as opposed to the current proposed 100’. The current width south of the freeway is 44’. TWLTLs are used in many communities across the country. New Berlin uses them and I have seen them in other states on roadways as wide and busy as Bluemound.
There are many other concerns—too numerous to mention here. Alderman Jerry Mellone gave me a list of them. If you would like a copy, just email me.
PLEASE send in your comments to:
MR. DOUG M. SENSO, P.E.
R.A. SMITH & ASSOCIATES, INC.
16745 WEST BLUEMOUND ROAD, SUITE 200
BROOKFIELD, WI 53005-5938
Mayor Jeff Speaker, Speaker@ci.brookfield.wi.us
Engineering: Tom Grisa, Grisa@ci.brookfield.wi.us
Jeff Chase Chase@ci.brookfield.wi.usPublic Works Board Members:
Rick Owen – Chairman email@example.com
Ald. Steve Ponto firstname.lastname@example.org
Ald. Mark Nelson email@example.com
Ald. Christopher Blackburn firstname.lastname@example.org
Ald. Lisa Mellone email@example.com
Ald. Scott Berg, aldermanic alternate firstname.lastname@example.org
Weed control links: garlic mustard
and garlic mustard's pretty cousin, Dame's Rocket.
(It can take over native areas too.) Garlic mustard should be thrown in the trash--do not compost