Downtown Washington Street Bridge Replacement Project
Open House #1 Public Comments
The first public open house for the project was held on February 9, 2017. During this meeting, TED Business Group staff as well as representatives from Alfred Benesch & Co and Gary Weber and Associates fielded questions and shared information with more than 40 stakeholders about design considerations, traffic flow, compatibility with adjacent land, construction staging alternatives and project timeline.
In addition to conversations at the meeting, comment sheets were available for stakeholders to provide written input. The opportunity to offer comments and review the materials presented at the meeting were also made available on the City’s website. This initial comment period closed on March 1, 2017. More than 20 people completed a written survey.
The following items highlight an initial summary of the comments received divided by category and the associated presentation boards from the open house are linked under each category title:
Traffic Flow Improvement
- Public comments concurred with the data supplied about existing traffic congestion and crash safety issues and supported lane improvements to add turn lanes, improve lane use function and enhance access to adjoining properties. In order to add the fifth middle lane, properties needs to be acquired from the west side of Washington Street between the bridge and Aurora Avenue and from the east side of Washington Street between Chicago Avenue and the bridge.
Street-Level Features and Utility Adjustments
- The comments acknowledged the poor condition of the bridge and the load limit prohibiting truck use and they were supportive of the bridge’s need to be replaced.
- Comments related to the street level function of the bridge identified support for sidewalks that are protected from the traffic with a solid barrier.
- Comments were received about creating enhanced views of the adjacent parks and room for Century Walk art and historic amenities were received including overlook areas, decorative planters, lighting and smooth transitions to the surrounding properties.
River-Level and Pedestrian Features
- The input included feedback that the bridge’s design should be better incorporated with downtown pedestrian uses like the Riverwalk and be visually enhanced to add to the charm of the downtown.
- Stakeholders recommended a raise to the existing dip in the Riverwalk under the bridge which frequently floods and to add aesthetic and functional components to enhance the lighting under the bridge and other user amenities along the river banks.
Construction Project Management
- The majority of respondents (11 out of 14) favored a construction staging plan which would involve a full closure of the bridge to reduce the overall construction time duration. The average traffic on Washington Street is about 30,000 vehicle per day and it will be very challenging to find a good detour route. We only received less than 15 comments about the traffic control options. Considering the number of motorists using the route, we will evaluate the options further with reaching out to more commuters, adjacent residents and businesses, together with other factors to determine the best traffic management practice for this project.
- A second public meeting is tentatively scheduled for May 2017. This open house will present a comprehensive look at preliminary design plans for the Downtown Washington Street Bridge.
- In the coming weeks, conceptual design elements to be included in the final design of the bridge will be posted to this webpage.