City considers changes to improve downtown pedestrian safety
Truck traffic may be restricted
By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — The Marshfield Board of Public Works is supporting some changes recommended by the city’s Pedestrian Safety team.
The Pedestrian Safety team was created as a result of the Downtown Parking team and is comprised of nine members: four city officials, four Main Street Marshfield representatives, and one Marshfield citizen.
“It was an off-shoot of the Downtown Parking team, which had met previously,” said City Administrator Steve Barg. “The team was charged with looking at how to make the downtown area seem more pedestrian friendly in terms of people, whether you are visitors or you are from here. When you are going downtown, you are crossing Central. Do you feel safe? Do you feel any concerns about where you are supposed to walk and those types of things?”
The team presented a final report to the Public Works committee in August, but the recommendations contained in the report were brought forward for action during the Sept. 18 meeting.
“Three of the five recommendations do not carry a price tag with them,” Barg said.
Suggestions from the team included the use of solar-powered flashing crosswalk signs and changes in the programing of traffic light walk signals, landscaping, and traffic enforcement.
The Pedestrian Safety team also recommended adopting an ordinance to prohibit vehicles with more than two axles in the downtown area.
“For years people have been saying they don’t like the truck traffic downtown. Those larger trucks gives it the industrial feel, makes it seem like you are not in a central business district, but of course we do have commerce going through there. We have a lot of companies that rely on that,” Barg stated, “so the recommendation from the team is to request that the council look at adopting an ordinance to prohibit vehicles with more than two axles from driving downtown between Veterans Parkway and Fifth (Street). I think that we talked last time about should they go farther south than Fifth and making that effective Jan. 1 of the year.
“My recommendation … is to back that out a little bit because there is going to be some working with our local companies to have to come into play here.”
“We’ve been talking about getting those trucks off Central for a long time,” said Alderman Ed Wagner. “The whole idea of the parkway was to divert the Highway 13 traffic around the city, at least for the trucks. We are finding out two things. No. 1 is that they are willing to tangle with the traffic lights to get to Highway 80 down through the roundabouts.”
Wagner added that a second issue is instead of using State Highway 10 to get to State Highway 34 going south, trucks use County Road A to travel through Pittsville.
“They are tearing up (County Road) A in a big way, which the county highway superintendent is not thrilled about,” Wagner said.
“If we are going to do this — a couple things we need to do — we need to give it a lot of lead time. I was thinking a minimum of six months, and I think that is incumbent on us to come up with an alternate route of how we get them off of that and where we route them,” said Wagner.
The Board of Public Works approved the elimination of truck traffic effective Jan. 1, 2019, as well as changes to crosswalks, walk lights, and traffic enforcement.
The action went to the city council for final approval during its Sept. 26 meeting.