Plan B, Raised Crosswalk Slated for Clement Avenue  

January 7, 2017

By Katherine Keller

Clement Avenue residents hope that the city’s next strategy to calm traffic in front of their homes will be more effective than the large overhead signs that were installed nearly four years ago. Those overhead pedestrian-way signs consisted of a 31-foot mast with a 20-foot horizontal arm that extended 19 feet above the roadway surface.

The signs have not calmed excessive vehicular speed in the stretch of Clement between Oklahoma and Kinnickinnic avenues nor quelled residents’ pedestrian safety concerns, whether they or others are crossing Clement or entering and exiting their cars parked at the curb.

Andy Reid, 2943 S. Clement, has long campaigned for traffic calming measures to slow speeding drivers on Clement. He led the 2012 effort that resulted in the tall overhead signs, although what he had advocated was a four-way stop. At the time he told the Compass, “The traffic on Clement was too fast. I felt a stop sign would slow it down and make the street more pedestrian-friendly and safer for people getting out of their cars. Clement is used as a shortcut from Oklahoma to Kinnickinnic and there are no stops signs to slow [cars] down.”

He said the tall signs over the crosswalk did not slow drivers. This year he and his neighbors once again unsuccessfully launched a campaign for a four-way stop.

“Historically, speed humps have been used on side streets to reduce speeding,” said Zielinski. “But they have not been used on arterials such as Clement Avenue. The reason is that the speed hump is considered too great a disruption to the flow of traffic and can create a safety hazard. They also slow down emergency vehicles too much.”

Because Clement is considered a key arterial, District 14 Ald. Tony Zielinski said that traffic engineers with the city’s Department of Public Works would not support four-way stop signs or speed bumps.

Instead, DPW proposed a raised crosswalk, sometimes called a “speed table.”

“Speed tables are flatter and can be designed for roadways with posted speeds of 25-30 miles per hour,” said DPW’s Sandy Rusch Walton. “Unlike speed humps which are also 3 to 3 1/2 inches high, speed tables or raised crosswalks feature a 10 to 12 foot flat section. Speed tables are not intended to slow traffic already at, or near, the speed limit, but they do discourage speeding of 5-plus miles an hour over the limit, and have been demonstrated to reduce speeds 4 to 9 miles per hour on average. The section of Clement Avenue identified has a posted speed of 25 miles per hour, but has average speeds of 29 miles per hour and an 85th percentile (or prevailing) speed of 33 miles per hour.”

Installation of a concrete speed table would cost between $10,000 and $15,000 based on similar installations in other areas of Milwaukee County.

The current proposal is to install a single raised crosswalk (speed table) at the intersection of Clement Avenue and Dakota Street. Property owners on each block of Clement immediately north and south of the intersection would pay for the cost of installation based on the city’s Neighborhood Traffic Management Program.

Because the project is assessable, Zielinski said that he would survey the residents who would be affected to measure their support for, or opposition to, the project through surveys that would be mailed in December or January.

While this would be the first raised crosswalk in the city, DPW said that similar raised (pavement) projects have been installed in the City of Greenfield on 116th Street in front of Whitnall High School and in the 6900 block of Bottsford Avenue behind Maple Grove Elementary School.

In 2011 DPW said that daily traffic on Clement between Oklahoma and Kinnickinnic was 5,300 vehicles compared to daily traffic of 10,400 vehicles on Kinnickinnic between Oklahoma and Clement.

The overhead signs installed on Clement Avenue to protect the pedestrian crosswalk at Dakota Street cost $8,000 when they were installed in late 2011. They will be removed when the raised crosswalk is installed, Zielinski said.

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