Madison seeks public input on how to improve ‘hairball’ intersection

Madison seeks public input on how to improve ‘hairball’ intersection

The city of Madison is holding a public input meeting tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the Madison Municipal Building to see how Madison residents think the hairball intersection can be improved.

The streets being considered for construction include John Nolen and South Blair Street.

City of Madison Engineering Division spokesperson Hannah Mohelnitzky said some ideas that are being considered are putting more turn lanes in, installing pedestrian lighting and improving road surfacing. She added that the state of Wisconsin will fund the major roads, while other improvements to local streets will be funded by the city.

One of the busiest intersections in #Madison is about to undergo some major changes for improvements in safety, but first the city wants to hear from you on how they can improve it.

— Jamie Perez (@JamiePerezTV) November 4, 2019

“Our number one thing is safety,” Mohelnitzky said. She added the project will likely start in 2022.

Based on a study done by the city, between 2011 and 2015, 92 crashes were reported in that intersection. Forty-six of those were rear-end collisions and nine were bike crashes.

Longtime Madison resident and board member of Madison Bikes Robbie Webber said for as many times as she has traveled through the intersection, she knows how confusing it can be to navigate, particularly when it comes to those who are not traveling by car.

“That island right there is full of people and people are queuing up right here to try to cross onto the island because you have to do it in a two-stage crossing. You can’t do it on one light. So people get stuck in the middle, they get stuck on the curb, and then they get stuck in the middle and there’s not enough space. People sort of flow over onto the path,” Webber said.

Webber said she would prefer if the city would focus on how to get more cars off the roads rather than figure out how to get more cars safely through the intersection.

“The city of Madison has to start thinking about the fact that assuming people are going to drive everywhere is not going to work for a growing city built on an isthmus. We have to start prioritizing transit, walking and biking for short trips,” Webber said.

Mohelnitzky said tonight’s meeting is the first community input meeting and another one will be scheduled soon. Mohelnitzky added she wants people to come to these meetings so Madison residents can feel heard in deciding what would best work to make the intersection as safe as possible.

Webber said she hopes improvements are made that can increase safety for those she feels are most vulnerable.

“The problem is sometimes you have to give them the right problem to solve,” Webber said. “The right problem to solve here is not how to get more cars here in the intersection, it’s how to make it safer for people who aren’t in cars.”

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