If you are a member of the free Nextdoor Monona social networking service, you may know that I and some of my South Winnequah Road neighbors have been feuding with the Monona City Council for more than a year now.
Mayor Mary O’Connor, the city council and members of the Ad Hoc Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee want to make South Winnequah safer for bikers and walkers.
Those of us who live on the road want the same thing but without destroying the natural beauty of the mature trees that turn sections of the road into a leafy tunnel in the summer.
The city wants sidewalks. The residents want to reduce car traffic and reduce the speed of the cars on South Winnequah.
One of those residents, Tom Thompson, a retired accounting professor, recently met with city officials and a couple of engineers to suggest making South Winnequah one-way southbound, at least temporarily.
Since the Bridge Road bridge is currently open only to southbound traffic, this would seem like a good time to experiment with a one-way road.
Making South Winnequah one-way would open up an entire lane for bike and pedestrian traffic, as well as reducing the traffic volume by half, thus meeting the goals of both sides.
Alas, city officials seem totally resistant to such out-of-the-box thinking.
The city people seem to think traffic on South Winnequah is going to increase once the Yahara Commons development is complete.
The residents want to hold off on dramatic fixes like sidewalks until we see what traffic does develop.
Thompson believes that once Yahara Commons adds the cars from 222 apartments, 96 motel rooms and a few retail establishments to the Bridge Road-Broadway intersection, plus the addition of a four-way stop sign at South Winnequah and Bridge, far fewer Monona residents will use that route to enter and leave Monona.
I used Bridge Road for 41 years. Now I use Monona Drive, which is built to handle more traffic, and reach my home via Frost Woods.
Thompson also conducted an experiment: Starting at the intersection of Nichols Road and Winnequah (west of Winnquah Park), he drove to Monona Terrace in downtown Madison.
One route went east on Nichols to Monona Drive, south on Monona to the Beltline, and the Beltline to John Nolen Drive. It was 6.8 miles and took almost exactly 15 minutes.
His second route was east on Nichols to Monona Drive, north on Monona to Atwood and Willy streets, to John Nolen Drive and the convention center. That route was 6.2 miles – and took almost exactly 15 minutes.
His third route involved using Winnequah Road from the starting point north to Monona Drive, and then followed the Atwood-Willy Street corridor. That route was 5.5 miles – and also took exactly 15 minutes.
Thompson drove all three routes at mid-day and acknowledges that each would probably take more time in rush-hour traffic.
But all three avoid the Bridge Road-Broadway intersection that is likely to become so problematic once Yahara Commons is complete.
Here is Thompson’s letter to the Monona community:
“The Riverfront Redevelopment Project at the corner of Bridge Road and West Broadway is proving to be a nice addition to our community. I am sure it is going to prove to be a wonderful long-term asset to the community. By the end of 2020 or a little later there will be 222 apartments, 92 motel rooms, Buck-N-Honey’s and other commercial citizens calling this home. Their daily destination.
“I believe the corner of Bridge Road and West Broadway will prove to be an area to avoid unless it is your destination. We have the perfect opportunity to change our permanent driving habits with Bridge Road currently under construction.
“I urge everyone living west of Monona Drive to use either Nichols Road or West Dean as your primary route to Monona Drive and use Monona Drive when you are leaving our community.
“I have an ulterior motive to this suggestion. We have enjoyed a lifelong asset in this community: Its natural beauty.
“Our grandson said he knew he was getting close to Grandma’s house because they were ‘in the forest.’
“The Winnequah Road corridor from Monona Drive to Bridge Road is a large part of the ‘Bike Loop’ available for visitors to enjoy this natural beauty.
“The increase in auto, bike and pedestrian traffic in this area has created a legitimate concern as to the safety of all.
“I would like to see us be able to satisfy those safety concerns and preserve the natural beauty without spending exorbitant tax dollars. A start would be to decrease the daily auto traffic in that area.
Sunny Schubert would love to hear your comments on this – or any other – topic. Call her at 222-1604 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.