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Surveyors prepare for Cascade Ave. reconstruction

December 11, 2008

The River Falls City Council approved $245,000 on Nov. 11, to prepare preliminary plans for upgrading Cascade Avenue. This takes the concept plans prepared last year and develops them in more detail.

“The money will pay for surveying and pulmonary engineering, where roads will be, how intersections will layout, full layout of the landscape and a very detailed cost evaluation,” Dale Braun, UW-River Falls campus planner, said.

The new road design was presented at a public meeting last November and includes a two lane road, one eastbound and one westbound, three roundabouts and a wider bike path and pedestrian walkway. The plans also include eliminating on-street parking as well as access to certain side streets, including Third Street.

The conceptual design was done without surveying, now it is the surveyor’s job to figure out how everything will really fit in and where easements and land purchases are needed.

The actual reconstruction of Cascade is expected to begin in 2011 with the project being split in two sections.

“We envision it to be a two phase project. First, Spruce Street through Second Street and then Sixth Street through Wasson Lane,” Reid Wronski, River Falls city engineer, said.  “[It will be] a complete reconstruction of the street as wells as everything that lies beneath it.”

Parking will be eliminated along Cascade from Second to Sixth Street. On-street parking will be displaced by vacating Third Street between Cascade Avenue and Spring Street, to expand the parking lot east of North Hall and adding a parking lot in front of the residence halls east of Sixth Street on the south side.

“By moving the parking off the street it will eliminate traffic on the street, stopping traffic in order to park and circling around looking of parking,” Wronski said. The roundabouts included in the design will be located at Second Street, Sixth Street and Wasson Lane.

“We had to choose between signal lights or roundabouts, we choose [roundabouts] to help pedestrians,” Wronski said. “[It will] let the driver be aware that they entered a different zone.”

The roundabouts will cause traffic to slow down. Vehicles will be able to go straight through instead of stopping and the roundabouts, in replacement to signal lights, will save a tremendous amount of energy, Wronski said.

“I think roundabouts can be confusing and tricky to maneuver,” Margaret Nelson, UWRF student and commuter, said. “It will be more dangerous, it won’t necessarily slow people down. It will just be more hazardous because people will be in a rush to get through it.”

Sidewalks will be added on the north side down to Wasson Lane and the south side will have a wide multiuse trail for pedestrians and bicycles. The road will also have a wide shoulder for bicyclists in addition to the trail.

“Sidewalks will be improved and there will dedicated bike lanes for pedestrian and bicycle safety,” Braun said. “We want to make the area as safe as we can and still recognize that we have to have vehicle traffic as well.”