Tower Avenue slated for reconstruction

The north end of Tower Avenue is overdue for a face lift. Pavement under the Superior street is nearing 100 years old, as are the combined sewer pipes beneath.

Tower Avenue
Traffic can be seen moving north on Tower Avenue near Belknap Street. Wisconsin Department of Transportation held a public information meeting Thursday to discuss design concepts for the reconstruction of Tower Avenue from Belknap Street to North 3rd Street. (Jed Carlson/

The north end of Tower Avenue is overdue for a face lift. Pavement under the Superior street is nearing 100 years old, as are the combined sewer pipes beneath.

The stretch of downtown street has deteriorated. Cosmetic work -- temporary overlays and patches -- no longer maintain the driving surface.

Plans are in the work for a total reconstruction project of the avenue, stretching from Belknap to Third Street, to be completed in 2013. The approximately $7 million undertaking will do more than botox the surface. Digging deep, a new storm sewer system will be installed, lighting added, parking improved.

"It's an opportunity to dramatically change Tower Avenue," said Kaye Tenerelli, executive director of the Business Improvement District.

While the project has been in the works for years, the public joined the process Thursday night. Business owners along the aging street attended an information meeting at Superior's Department of Transportation building. A second presentation for the public netted a single attendee.


One of the key issues was pedestrian safety.

"There have been some car-pedestrian accidents and even some fatalities," said Robert Anderson, project supervisor for WisDOT. The need for safer street crossings "came through loud and clear from business owners."

Possible solutions range from curb bump outs at intersections and flashing amber crossing lights to a concrete curb running down the center of the road, providing an island of safety for people crossing the street. Some alternatives impact downtown parking, which is at a premium.

"It's a game of give and take," Anderson said. "There's a lot of compromise in this." And, in the end, the work must meet state and federal standards.

While some of the key property owners attended the meeting, they disagreed on what the new streets cape should look like.

"Some still want a four-lane," Tenerelli said. "Some were happy with the three-lane."

The stretch of pavement is the gateway to downtown.

"It's one of our main routes," said Jeff Goetzman, assistant public works director for the city of Superior, yet "It's one of the oldest pieces of pavement we've got."


Many business owners missed the meeting, Tenerelli said. "I think we have to find another way to reach them."

The project is currently in the design phase. While the completion date of 2013 may seem far away, Tenerelli said, it isn't.

"The more input we get now, the better off we'll be in the long run," Anderson said.

Tenerelli plans to send out surveys to members of the BID as well as property owners in the far northern section of Tower Avenue to inform them of the project and get suggestions. If you want more color or greenery, highly visible crosswalks, streetlights that reflect Superior's past or better parking, this is your chance to let the DOT know your preferences.

Public comments on the reconstruction project will be taken via e-mail at . People can also phone in design suggestions to Stephanie King at (715) 392-7874. A link to the WisDOT site will also be added to the BID's Web site. More public meetings are planned for the fall.

"I think this is a great opportunity for the community and the downtown area to make a statement," Tenerelli said.

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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