Traffic Calming Measures Installed On South Howell Avenue

May 2, 2018

 By Katherine Keller

In response to concerns for pedestrian safety in the stretch of South Howell between East Oklahoma and East Montana avenues, two pair of curb extensions were installed in April, each pair on opposite sides of Howell. 

District 14 Ald. Tony Zielinski pushed for the extensions after a traffic engineer from Milwaukee Department of Public Works advised that vertical treatments such as humps or tables would not be recommended due to the volume of traffic on Howell Ave., as well their impact upon fire trucks and bus traffic. Howell Avenue is one of the city’s main arterials and is a preferred route for emergency vehicles.

DPW spokesperson Sandra Rusch Walton said that its data indicated that curb extensions would provide more safe crossing gaps, even more than a traffic signal, by narrowing the width of the street.

The curb extensions were placed at key crossings to reduce the crossing distance and improve pedestrian visibility.

Milwaukee Parkside School for the Arts, seen in the background, was one of three schools that called for traffic calming measures on South Howell Avenue. The curb extension in this photo was installed at Dewey Place on the east side of Howell. —Photo Katherine Keller

One set is installed at Dewey Place and the other at Montana Avenue.

“Ultimately, we agreed with Alderman Zielinski and the residents to install curb extensions at Montana and Dewey for the school and access to Humboldt Park,” said Rusch Walton. “We are not installing anything in the roadway.”

The project also included the installation of newer sewer facilities due to drainage changes created by the extensions. 

The extensions were installed along the curb in the parking lanes. 

South Howell Avenue, looking north, at the intersection of East Montana Avenue. —Photo Katherine Keller


Last year, Bay View residents who live on or near Howell, along with school officials from Milwaukee Parkside School of the Arts, Saint Lucas Lutheran School, and Downtown Montessori Academy mounted a campaign to draw attention to speeding, failure to yield to pedestrians, and the dearth of stop signs between Oklahoma and Lincoln avenues. The campaign included yard signs and a petition drive that culminated in a public meeting held December 1 at Parkside.

Presenters included Jake Newborn of the Wisconsin Bike Fed, Joseph Blakeman of Milwaukee’s Department of Public Works, and Dist. 14 Ald. Tony Zielinski. Milwaukee Police Department Sergeant Eileen Donovan-Agnew and Community Liaison Officers Carlos Felix and Joshua Dummann also attended.

Newborn pointed out that there are no traffic controls on Howell between Oklahoma and Lincoln, which he asserted contributes to the careless driving and speeding that make Howell Avenue hazardous to pedestrians. The stretch of Howell serves students who attend Parkside, 2969 S. Howell Ave.; Saint Lucas, 648 E. Dover St.; and Downtown Montessori, 2507 S. Graham St., and includes a crossing for the Oak Leaf Trail.

In summer, the popular Chill on the Hill concert series in the Humboldt Park bandshell generates high traffic volume that is hazardous to pedestrians, others said. Many attendees walk to the concert with their children and must cross Howell.

Newborn and others at the meeting asked for stop signs or traffic lights, pointing out that the curve on Howell between Dover Street and Russell Avenue posed sightline hazards, putting pedestrians at risk. Ald. Zielinski said that DPW wouldn’t add stop signs or traffic lights on Howell between Oklahoma and Lincoln because the street is a major arterial.

Last year, Bay View residents who live on or near South Howell Avenue, along with school officials from Milwaukee Parkside School of the Arts, Saint Lucas Lutheran School, and Downtown Montessori Academy mounted a campaign to draw attention to speeding, failure to yield to pedestrians, and the dearth of stop signs between Oklahoma and Lincoln avenues. In response to their appeal, curb extensions were installed in April. —Photo Katherine Keller

DPW traffic engineer Joe Blakeman said that he had no record of pedestrians being hit in front of Parkside.

He said that parents and kids generally are doing a good job interacting with Howell traffic. He noted that some of the problems with speeding and careless or reckless driving are attributable to the lack of driver education classes in the Milwaukee Public School curriculum.

Several audience members asked for curb extensions in lieu of stop signs or traffic lights. Curb extensions make a section of a street narrower and motivate drivers to reduce their speed. There is a pair of curb extensions on Potter Avenue behind Dover Street School.

Speed bumps were ruled out because they would be detrimental to emergency vehicles and bus traffic, slowing their rate of progress.

Another suggestion was for flashing beacons but it was ruled out by Blakeman, who said they cause rear-end collisions. The in-road pentagonal signs, that remind drivers that state law requires they must slow down or stop for pedestrians, were deemed ineffective by Newborn and audience members.

After considering remarks made by presenters and audience members, Zielinski said he would try to find funding for curb extensions for the intersection of Howell Avenue and Montana Street and for another pair near Downtown Montessori.

After the December 1 meeting, Zielinski told the Compass he’d like to see the Howell Avenue curb extensions installed in 2018, and in 2019 another set on Homer to stem traffic that backs up at Downtown Montessori when parents pick-up and drop-off children.

The total cost of the project was approximately $100,000.

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One Comment on "Traffic Calming Measures Installed On South Howell Avenue"

  1. Lisa on Thu, 3rd May 2018 9:04 am 

    The yellow pedestrian crossing signs are ineffective because people don’t know what they mean. They don’t realize that these signs are yield signs. The flashing beacons accompanying these signs don’t work either because people don’t stop for them
    I would advocate for changing our yield signs for all purposes to the red signs already in use and eliminate the yellow ones altogether. Perhaps changing the flashing beacon signs to red would also be advantageous. Blakeman wasn’t aware of any pedestrians being hit outside of Parkside; do we have to wait for someone to be hit, injured or killed to do something? I like that Howell has no stop signs or lights between Oklahoma and Lincoln, but as a cyclist, I fear using the road because of poor quality and crazy, inattentive drivers. KK has the bike lane, but is chock full of stop lights that rarely have traffic. There has to be a better way.

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