Milwaukee reckless driving mitigation; construction projects start

The Milwaukee Department of Public Works announced Thursday, Oct. 20 it has begun construction of "reckless driving mitigation projects."

The projects are paid for with American Rescue Plan Act funds. They include a variety of "traffic-calming" measures, such as signage, traffic circle and pinned curb extensions.

Pinned curb extensions and refuge islands are a quicker, less expensive option than traditional traffic-calming, the city said in a news release, but provide the same safety benefit by shortening the distance for pedestrians to cross the street while making it more difficult for drivers to pass on the right.

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Walking near Humboldt Park in the city's Bay View neighborhood isn't always easy for Paul Kaminsky and his dog.

"I’ve been involved in a few close calls myself just trying to get across the street," he said.

Curb extension in Milwaukee

The initial project locations are:

  • West Meinecke Avenue adjacent to Butterfly Park
  • Improvements near Riverside Park at Newberry and Oakland
  • East Oklahoma Avenue from Howell to Clement
  • West Locust Street from Sherman to 40th
  • South 35th Street from Oklahoma to Forest Home

"What these bump outs do is they reduce the pedestrian pathway across roadways, making that distance shorter and getting those pedestrians out of traffic," said Public Works Commissioner Jerrel Kruschke. "We’re trying to touch as many intersections to stop the passing on the right."

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Kaminsky is open to the idea. 

"I’ve seen people passing on the right, and I think those bump outs will prevent that," he said.

The city plans to add signs warning drivers about the extra concrete.

Curb extension near Pine and Oklahoma in Milwaukee

"Alone, our rapid implementation projects have seen traffic speeds reduced by more than 20% and have reduced passing on the right," Kruschke said.

"One of the more promising strategies to reduce reckless driving involves redesigning our streets," said Mayor Cavalier Johnson

Kaminsky said there is one other way to reduce reckless driving.

"People aren’t willing to slow down for pedestrians, it seems, and to me that’s crazy. All they have to do is take their foot off the gas," said Kaminsky.

In all, the DPW is installing 16 ARPA-allocated projects to curb reckless driving with the remainder scheduled for construction in 2023, the city said. It is part of the city of Milwaukee’s $19 million investment for reckless driving mitigation projects, which includes funding from tax incremental financing districts, ARPA allocations from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, and city budget dollars.

Other traffic-calming projects include the rapid implementation initiative, speed humps, road diets and restriping to fewer travel lanes.