Reconstructed STH 20 Represents Racine’s Values
Written by Bhupendra Bista, PE, Strand Associates, Inc.®
The Washington Avenue (STH 20) corridor in the City of Racine needed major upgrades. The corridor had not seen a major reconstruction in over 50 years, resulting in a crash rate nearly double the state average. The aging infrastructure included complex intersections, inadequate bicycle and pedestrian accommodations, lack of parking, and historical constraints.
With the pressing issues at hand, the City of Racine engaged the expertise of Strand Associates, Inc.® to lead the project's design to achieve the following objectives:
- Replace the aging and deteriorated pavement, which had long exceeded its lifespan.
- Enhance both the safety and visual appeal of the corridor, making it more attractive and secure for residents and visitors.
- Introduce on-street accommodations for bicycles and bring pedestrian accommodations to current standards, ensuring accessibility for everyone.
- Where feasible, provide parking options to cater businesses and residents along the corridor.
- Create a distinctive gateway corridor that showcases the city's character while avoiding the need for permanent acquisition of new right-of-way.
Implementing a Road Diet for Multimodal Improvements
Given the challenging conditions, a road diet emerged as the ideal approach to achieve multimodal accommodations, enhance corridor safety, and improve aesthetics.
Road Diet Design
To confirm the road diet concept, a detailed traffic model of the corridor was prepared. The model results revealed that travel lane and turn lane widths could be reduced to 11 feet, meeting current design standards. The number of travel lanes was reduced to create the necessary width for bike lanes in both directions. Where lane reduction wasn't feasible, integral curb and gutter solutions were employed to provide on-street bicycle accommodations.
Unrestricted on-street parking was strategically added along the corridor wherever feasible, catering to the needs of businesses and residents.
A Citizen Advisory Committee played a vital role in the project, providing feedback on Community Sensitive Solution elements. Bump-outs in the business district to reduce pedestrian crossing distances, mark on-street parking limits, and promote traffic calming. Artistic panels at Roosevelt Avenue and stamped concrete terraces, along with other streetscape features in the business district, were introduced to enhance aesthetics, create a gateway feature, and offer additional outdoor seating for restaurants.
In the end, the reconstructed Washington Avenue is a testament to the values of the City of Racine and its residents. It prioritizes multimodal accommodations, encourages alternative modes of travel, and recognizes the significance of the roadway as a major gateway to the city.
Bhupendra Bista, PE, is a Project Manager at Strand Associates, Inc.® in Milwaukee. Strand Associates is a long-time ACEC Wisconsin member. Established in 1946, Strand is a thriving corporation with 12 offices and projects in 48 states.