A proposal to install bike and pedestrian lanes along one of Mequon’s major thoroughfares is moving forward, though the plans have been tweaked after undergoing intensive scrutiny.
The common council on Tuesday, Dec. 13, voted on a pared-down version of the lane installations along Donges Bay Road, between Wauwatosa and Cedarburg roads. The project is being rolled into the city’s capital improvement plan, possibly for 2017.
While aldermen offered widespread support for installing the lanes — many lauded it as a safety enhancement — there was lengthy debate on the sheer scope of the project, which is part of a broader road reconstruction effort.
The full, estimated cost of installing the bike and pedestrian lanes, as initially proposed, was $73,000. The figure will be less with the council’s recent motion at play.
In the end, elected officials agreed to a plan that pared down the technical specifications. Although 5-foot lanes will be installed and striped alongside the road, a proposal to flare those lanes at strategic locations has been removed.
Alderman John Wirth, who made the motion to scale back some of the features within the bike and pedestrian lanes, defended his plan. He asserted it was fiscally prudent, while still conforming to national road standards.
Noting its high traffic volumes, Wirth said he did not believe a robust bike and pedestrian plan was necessary for Donges Bay Road. In terms of recreation, Wirth said he believed the roadway was best suited for families riding bikes together.
“I think we ought to make some safety improvements there,” Wirth said. “This isn’t a path for children.”
But several of Wirth’s elected colleagues offered different viewpoints. Alderman Robert Strzelczyk was among them.
“This is a major east-west road, and it does tie in nicely with the interurban east-west trail,” Strzelczyk said. “I struggle on voting on anything where there would still be a safety issue. The goal of a bike lane is to mitigate a safety issue.”
Alderwoman Connie Pukaite offered similar concerns, using the fact the road reconstruction project carried a 30-year lifespan.
“This is a very different city,” Pukaite said as she looked in the rearview mirror and compared Mequon today to what it was in 1986. “We’ve done a lot of development in the past 30 years. I think we are responsible for the future, not the here and now.”
Wirth’s amended motion passed on a 6-2 vote. The full council voted unanimously in favor of adopting a resolution that gave the green light to proceed with the bike and pedestrian path.
The council’s recent motion was the culmination of an extensive planning effort that included studying cost estimates and polling nearby residents on their interest in the bike lanes. At least one city panel also dug into the proposal.
“The joint Mequon-Thiensville Bike and Pedestrian Way Commission reaffirmed its desire and prioritization of the project at its December meeting,” James Keegan, deputy director of engineering, wrote in a memo.