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City strives toward Cascade renovation

September 24, 2009

The City of River Falls continued work on the Cascade Avenue renovation over the summer by completing preliminary design studies and patching parts of the road until the actual construction begins.

“The physical work that was done over the summer was merely patching of the street to keep it reasonably drivable until the major reconstruction can take place,” River Falls City Engineer, Reid Wronski, said.

Along with that, a preliminary study was used to design where exactly the road will be placed and also determined that a marked crosswalk was needed for a crossing between Cascade Ave. and Spruce Street.

The $245,000 used to prepare preliminary plans for a Cascade redesign was approved by the River Falls City Council on Nov. 11, 2008. On March 23, 2007, River Falls hired the engineering consulting firm Short Elliot Hendrickson (SEH) for preliminary design services for Cascade Avenue.

“Preliminary design takes the concept plan that was endorsed by UW-River Falls and WisDot, and adopted by the City Council, and puts engineering into it by obtaining surveys, researching land records and refining geometric design,” Wronski said.

As of now, the final design includes roundabouts at three locations: Wasson Lane, Sixth Street and Second Street. The section that runs between Second and Sixth Street will consist of a single lane running each direction, separated by a median. There will be no parking allowed on Cascade Ave. between this section.

According to the final plan laid out on the River Falls city Web site, to compensate for the removal of parking lots west of North Hall, Cascade Ave. and Spring Street will be reconstructed as a single lot.

There will be a net loss of two parking spaces after the renovation is complete. However, the number of on-street spaces interfering with traffic will be reduced from 232 to 48.

Mike Shanley, a UWRF student and commuter, believes the renovation will have no affect on him.

“Later on when I come to visit the campus it will make it look very prestigious, but at the cost of convenience for all students for a long time. I’m glad that I’m not one of the many students that will have to fight to get to class,” he said.

The actual reconstruction of Cascade Ave. isn’t set to begin until 2011 at the earliest. A major factor in determining when the construction will actually begin is the agreement that must be reached between the City of River Falls, UWRF and WisDot. This agreement will consist of how exactly the $5-8 million project will be funded and covered.

According to the River Falls city Web site, the final report for the renovation included an anticipated project funding section which stated that funds from UWRF were expected to be somewhere between $700,000 and $3 million. Those funds are expected to come from the State of Wisconsin’s general fund and from the cost of parking permits and fine revenue.

The construction will take two summers, and during that time there will be detoured routes for commuters. Parts of Cascade Ave. will be detoured for up to six months during the construction season, which runs anywhere from April 1 to December 1.

“The project will be broken down into two phases, one spanning the distance from May Hall to Centennial Hall and another from Rodli Hall to Moody’s dealership,” UWRF Campus Planner Dale Braun said.

Braun emphasized the greatest positive effect of the project as the road being “safer” for students, staff, bicyclists and those crossing the street. 

“Safety was one of the main purposes of doing the project,” he said.

The next step in the renovation is to have additional public meetings where the refined preliminary design will be presented.

“These meetings will be taking place over the coming two months. Notices will be published in the River Falls Journal, Student Voice and on the City and University Web sites,” Wronski said.

The Cascade Ave. renovation is set to be completed by 2013.