Works Board agrees with residents’ request to not widen Harrison Street but decides to add walks on both sides
Residents of Harrison Street won a partial victory Tuesday when the Port Washington Board of Public Works recommended to keep the road at its current 26-foot width when it is rebuilt next year.
However, the board agreed to build sidewalks along both sides of the street, something many residents opposed during a public information meeting on the 2017 street projects held last week.
The issue of restricting parking to one side of the street, either seasonally or year-round — another proposal the residents opposed — will be left up to the city’s Traffic Safety Committee, the board agreed.
The Common Council will consider the board’s recommendations when it meets Tuesday, Dec. 20.
The board reviewed plans for the seven street projects slated for next year — all of which are recommended to be narrowed — but spent most of its time discussing Harrison Street.
The street is in “terrible condition,” Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said, adding that an average of 122 cars a day travel on the road.
The road is “quite narrow,” he said, and the street department sometimes has issues navigating plows and salters around the many cars that park on the roadway.
Vanden Noven said he recommended narrowing the street to 22 feet, which would allow for wider parkways, giving residents room to pile snow in winter and space for parkway trees to grow.
Limiting parking to one side of the street would retain enough room for traffic on the street, he said, and make the road feel wider.
In keeping with the city’s policy of installing sidewalk when rebuilding streets, Vanden Noven also recommended adding walkways on both sides of Harrison Street.
“It is a sidewalk gap,” he said. “It shouldn’t surprise people if the gap is filled.”
At last week’s public informational meeting on the 2017 street projects, numerous Harrison Street residents told Vanden Noven that narrowing the road is the wrong move.
“It’s going to be narrowed four feet — that’s a lot,” one woman said.
“I wish the city would cut down the hill and make the street wider,” one man said. “It’s very tight.”
That’s cost prohibitive, Vanden Noven said, noting retaining walls would be required. By limiting parking, he added, there is more room for traffic.
Residents living on the north end of the street said parking is an issue, noting that customers at The Patio on adjacent Dodge Street frequently park in front of their houses.
On the south end of Harrison Street, they said, it’s a tight turn for motorists coming off Jackson Street.
Several residents also expressed concern that emergency vehicles would not be able to navigate a narrower roadway, but officials said they take care to ensure this does not happen.
Others noted that homes along Harrison Street have small front yards, arguing that this is a reason for the city not to add sidewalk.
But Vanden Noven noted that if the road is narrowed, it will increase the size of the parkway and their yards.
Board members spent roughly an hour debating the street, going so far as to consider eliminating the project from the 2017 schedule since residents don’t want any changes.
But Vanden Noven noted that this doesn’t solve the issue.
“You’re just kicking the can down the road,” he said.
Because the road is so narrow, the board agreed to keep the width as is.
Members split on the parking issue, particularly because of overflow parking from The Patio, ultimately deciding to leave that decision up to the Traffic Safety Committee.
But they agreed that sidewalks should be added, noting that the walkways are used by everyone and are important to the community.