Mixed reviews on widening a portion of 18th Avenue in WB

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About 40 people attended an information session Tuesday evening at West Bend City Hall to look over a proposal to widen 18th Avenue from Decorah Road south to Vogt Drive. There were two proposals in the mix including a rural plan which included a 1-to-2 foot widening of the road and paving the existing shoulder for bicycles. The urban plan would expand the road from 26 feet to 52 feet and include a bike lane, parking lane and sidewalk.

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“There was a survey when we moved in for a proposed widening of the road,” Jim Ciborosky said.  “We’ve lived there since 1974, there was no city around us and we’ll see how it goes if it affects us or not.”

Ciborosky realized 18th Avenue was a main thoroughfare with a lot of traffic. “But we don’t want to see it widen into our living room,” he said. “This will eat up a bunch of our yard and possibly some valuable trees.”

Proposed improvements include reconstruction of 18th Avenue, new pavement, curb and gutter, sidewalk, storm sewer and improved sight distance.

John Pedersen has lived on Julen Circle and 18th Avenue for 27 years. “The road does need to be repaved and widening, that would be fine,” Pedersen said. “But only adding a bike lane; that would easily accommodate the few walkers but there’s no need for extra sidewalks. We’re concerned with who will shovel it. For me that’s an extra 150 feet of sidewalk.”

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Amy Schmidt has lived in the area for 14 years and said that stretch of 18th Avenue may be a costly project but it’s long overdue. “The traffic has done nothing but increase, foot traffic has increased and it’s dangerous walking through there,” she said. “If the urban plan is done with the curbing and sidewalk that would give people the sense of driving in a neighborhood and it would bring the speed down a little bit.”

Quite a few members of the local Bike Friendly West Bend group attended the information meeting. Jeff Puetz said the diagrams were exactly what the Bike Friendly group has been promoting for the city.  “The rural option doesn’t have the parking lane while the urban alternative does,” he said. “The cool thing, from a biking standpoint, is if we have sidewalks and we have an ample bike lane incorporated in both plans it’s a win for cyclists and pedestrians.”

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Neighbors that attended the meeting filled out brief surveys that talked about sidewalks/pedestrians, bike traffic, parking and speeds. Contractors from Alfred Benesch & Company will review the plans and come back with an update at a later date.

A final proposal and possible property acquisition must still be approved by the Plan Commission and the Common Council.

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