The July 29 deadline for adding new items to the city of Winona's Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) is fast approaching, but the City Council has not received requested information on options for pedestrian safety improvements. Seven months have passed since a hit-and-run accident at Broadway and Liberty Street left an elderly woman in critical condition, five months since two young men were struck while crossing Broadway at Washington Street, and as many months since Winona City Council members Pam Eyden and George Borzyskowski made repeated calls for city staff to prepare a report on potential pedestrian safety improvements along Broadway. City staff members have given conflicting reports on whether the study is underway, whether consultants have been hired, and who is in charge of the study.
In early May, Public Works Director Keith Nelson told the Winona Post that consultants at Stantec Engineering had been hired to conduct the pedestrian safety study. He specified that the city had returned a signed proposal hiring the company in March or early April. In an email shortly after that interview, Nelson corrected himself, explaining that Stantec had not yet been hired and that the city was still waiting to receive a proposal from the firm, much less sign it, but that the city expected to receive the proposal by mid-May. In mid-June, Nelson said the city had still not received a proposal and he did not when to expect it. Nelson was not available for comment last week, but City Manager Judy Bodway confirmed that a pedestrian improvement proposal would not be part of this Monday's City Council agenda. The agenda had not been posted when the Winona Post went to press.
Other city staff members interviewed in May seemed to think that the study was on hold. City Engineer Brian DeFrang, whom Nelson had said was the point person for the study, said in May, "There's nothing like that going on."
There does appear to be have been some discussion between city staff and Stantec about conducting a study of pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements on Broadway, Huff, and Main streets. Nelson shared excerpts of the firm's notes on the project, which stated Stantec planned to submit a draft proposal and solicit the city's feedback on the proposal's scope before submitting a final proposal.
'We'll be back sometime'
Members at St. Martin's Lutheran Church were devastated when a fellow church member was struck while walking to choir practice late last November. The woman was hospitalized for weeks. Another member was killed in 2012 while crossing Broadway on her way to church. Shortly after the November 2013 accident, Eyden asked staff to conduct a study of pedestrian safety improvements. A month later, George Borzyskowski again asked staff to conduct a study and suggested that the city consider installing stop signs or stop lights on Broadway. The study is on its way, Bodway told Borzyskowski, and in a subsequent interview, said the study would include a proposal to add traffic controls at signless intersections throughout the city.
In March, a proposal to add stop signs at uncontrolled intersections throughout the city was shared with the council. Broadway was not included. There was no mention of pedestrians. "This whole traffic discussion was brought up after we had a hit-and-run on Broadway," Eyden said at that meeting. What happened to the pedestrian study? Bodway answered, "We just began that study. We have a ways to go. We'll continue that process and we'll be back sometime."
"Maybe it's time to break Broadway up," Borzyskowski suggested at that March meeting, referring to adding stop signs or stop lights. "I don't think we're trying to do that," Bodway responded.
After the November accident, Michelle Alexander, who is a member of St. Martin's Lutheran Church, shared concerns about safety at the intersection, but said she was unsure if a stop sign would be right for Broadway.
Last winter, the city provided the church with a portable pedestrian crossing sign to place on the centerline of Broadway when needed.
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