Tower Avenue redesign gets public viewingThe design concept for the Tower Avenue reconstruction project was placed under public scrutiny Thursday in the third floor courtroom of the Old Post Office.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
The design concept for the Tower Avenue reconstruction project was placed under public scrutiny Thursday in the third floor courtroom of the Old Post Office. The drawings that have emerged are the result of a “give and take” process with area business owners, according to Dave Miller, owner of Northwest Outlet. They include trees, bike racks, more ornamental LED lighting and pedestrian-friendly medians.
“We’ve come out with a relatively great plan,” Miller said.
But they’re not done yet. The project, aimed at replacing dated pavement and utilities while enhancing pedestrian safety, is slated for construction in 2013.
“I’m sure this won’t be the last meeting,” said Stephanie King, project design leader with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s northwest region office in Superior. But if anyone has a comment they should get it in now.
“This is the time we really want your comment,” King said. “The sooner, the better.”
Business owners who dropped by the Thursday afternoon session had few complaints.
“I think it’s a very nice design,” said Rich Reder, president of Northwest Beverages. “It makes the area look very friendly.”
The stretch of Tower Avenue from Belknap Street to Third Street will be nice once it’s finished, agreed Anchor Bar owner Adam Anderson, but construction of the new streetscape could take a bite out of business.
“We don’t have parking in the back at all,” said Bean Prettie, manager of the Anchor Bar. If they shut down Tower Avenue, she said, patrons would have nowhere to park.
Parking was one of the issues addressed by landscape architechts from SAS and Associates in Duluth. The city of Superior has lofted a plan to add perpendicular parking to one side of side streets running off Tower. By doing that, 234 on-street parking spaces will be available in the area – only 12 less than the existing 246 . Without the perpendicular parking option, that number would shrink to 199.
Those who attended the meeting lofted a few questions about adding handicapped parking and whether construction would close Tower Avenue down.
The original plan calls for one side of the street to be shut down at a time, allowing for through traffic, King said. But if the city puts in a sanitary sewer line, they would be digging trenches 15 feet deep.
“It would be tough to leave lanes open and maintain safety for drivers and workers,” she said. So decisions on the utility and sanitation work to be done will affect that aspect of construction.
The city of Superior will be upgrading Banks Avenue in preparation for the 2013 Tower Avenue project. The stretch from Winter Street to 12th Street will be under construction this summer, with the remainder slated for summer 2011. That work – approximately $380,000 for each section – will be funded by Community Development Block Grant funding, said City Planner Jason Serck. And along with chipping in for the $7 million Tower Avenue reconstruction, the city will have to procure another $3 million for extras included in the plan.
“That it will be a three-lane design is set in stone,” Serck said, but other design elements ebb and flow.
“This is the concept,” he said of the current drawings. “We are going to have trees, going to have islands, going to have new lighting.” The sidewalk will bump out at intersections to calm traffic and there will be a bike lane.
To fund the $3 million in extras, Serck said, the city will search out options, from federal and state sources.
“We’re going to shake every tree there is,” he said.
Four different construction projects have affected business at Northwest Outlet in recent years.
“You can get mad and grouse about it or roll up your sleeves and balance the equation,” he said.
Right now, he said, businesses along Tower Avenue need to be looking at ways to get customers in the back door while construction takes place. When the heavy machinery rolls out, they can invite the public to a revitalized street.
“Our goal is to create a warm, inviting look to downtown,” Miller said, so people view it as a destination instead of a through way. To do that, he said, business owners need to stay involved.
Anyone with comments, questions or requests to view the plans are encouraged to contact King at (715) 392-7925 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; Serck at 395-7335 or by e-mail at email@example.com or the Business Improvement District at (715) 394-3557 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.