Shorewood - After a year of brainstorming and discussion, the Wilson Drive Task Force has identified its interests, concerns and priorities about the future of Wilson Drive, which is slated for reconstruction in 2018.
The committee of Shorewood residents, first convened in December 2015, consisted of a 13-person steering committee that sought input from four work groups dedicated to traffic and safety, environmental impacts, development and parks and recreation. They held roughly 20 meetings, including a June open house event that attracted 200 people and more than 130 pieces of written feedback.
Members of the task force and the public overwhelmingly rejected the idea of building residential or commercial properties on the west side of the street. After hearing negative feedback about development at the June open house, the Shorewood Village Board's strategic initiatives committee - which gives direction to the Wilson Drive Task Force - recommended the task force take development off the list of possible considerations.
With development off the table, the task force continued identifying its interests, concerns and priorities for the future of Wilson Drive. Some of the top priorities included preserving or expanding green space, creating two or more attractive entrances to Estabrook Park for pedestrians and bicyclists, providing recreational amenities, improving pedestrian crosswalks, improving bicycle safety and preserving biodiversity.
Some members of the task force were interested in creating left turn lanes at Congress Avenue. Several task force members said it was frustrating to come up with concepts without having an updated traffic study to determine whether the concepts were feasible. The last Wilson Drive traffic study was conducted in 2010.
Using ideas from the task force, a consulting firm called MSA Professional Services developed four roadway designs, including reconstructing the road at its existing width of 56 feet, keeping the road at 56 feet and adding a boulevard, slimming the road to 48 feet and slimming the road to 42 feet. All four scenarios include bike lanes, but in the boulevard scenario, bikes would share a lane with parked cars and bus stops. For a more detailed description of each scenario, visit the Wilson Drive Task Force page at villageofshorewood.org.
In a straw poll, the Wilson Drive Task Force Steering Committee primarily favored the 42-foot roadway, and secondarily favored the boulevard design.
The strategic initiatives committee will meet at 11 a.m. Thursday to discuss the timing and sequencing of the process moving forward. The village board is expected to hear a presentation from the task force and MSA on Tuesday, Jan. 17. The village board will then take some time to think about the presentation and gather feedback from constituents before selecting one of the four concepts at a Feb. 2 meeting.