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Eau Claire’s Hastings Way project has pedestrians in mind

By Jan Basina

Eau Claire is gearing up for yet another project.

Right on the tails of construction of the $58 million Justice Center comes word that the proposed South Hastings Way road project is ready to be go before the Eau Claire City Council for approval.

The current Hastings Way in Eau Claire (above) could become more pedestrian friendly (below), according to an artist's rendering. (Photo and rendering courtesy of SEH)

The current South Hastings Way in Eau Claire (above) could become more pedestrian friendly (below), according to an artist's rendering. (Photo and rendering courtesy of Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc.)

But unlike the norm for most road construction — building bigger and faster — this proposed road would be smaller and pedestrian friendly.

The plan is to turn a six-lane former state highway into a four-lane city street on a 1.4-mile stretch of South Hastings Way, from Clairemont Avenue north to the Eau Claire River bridges. And to accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists, the project would include sidewalks and recreational trails, from 6-feet wide to 10-feet wide on the east and west sides of the thoroughfare. There’s also an option for two pedestrian underpasses if it will fit within the allotted budget.

Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc., the engineering firm hired to design the project, even tinkered with the idea of placing roundabouts at two of the five intersections. But, in my opinion, better judgment prevailed (I admit I am not a roundabouter. I never understood the thinking surrounding roundabouts).

The preferred option now is to go with traffic signals. SEH determined that roundabouts would be slower and less safe than traffic signals for this operation.

The city acquired jurisdiction of the thoroughfare by negotiating a transfer with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. A provision of the agreement was that WisDOT would pay for the cost of rebuilding Hastings Way, and any enhancements would be responsibility of the city, along with the design and construction from Clairemont Avenue north to the Eau Claire River.

South Hastings Way Road Reconstruction, Eau Claire, Eau Claire County

Last November, the City Council approved $8.34 million for the project. WisDOT has contributed $6.31 million for its portion of the project.

A public hearing will be held Nov. 22; the City Council is set to vote on the project Nov. 23.

For those contractors interested, keep your eye out for construction bids. Right now, construction is anticipated between April and November 2011.

Jan Basina is a data reporter at The Daily Reporter. She doesn’t have to travel through any roundabouts on the way to work.

One comment

  1. Dear Ms. Basina,

    Unfamiliarity with roundabouts is not a reason to dismiss them. In 2000, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that when roundabouts replaced traditional intersections, an overall reduction in crashes were reduced by almost 40 percent and there was 75 percent reduction in serious, injury-producing crashes. To learn more about this study and the traffic calming effect of roundabouts, please see:

    http://www.iihs.org/externaldata/srdata/docs/sr3505.pdf

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