Friday, March 05, 2010

Isthmus Mangles Monona Drive Story

[See the end for an important update. March 6, 2010.]

You may have seen the article in Isthmus with the headline about a widening rift over Monona Drive.

The article by and gets some things right. The road badly needs reconstruction and safety improvements. It focuses on some of the controversy over the north end of the road project, but Isthmus shows its typically parochial nature by focusing solely on the issues raised by Madison residents.

Anyone who has followed this project closely will recall just a bit of controversy in Monona over Phase Two on a couple issues, like the geometrics of the Cottage Grove Road intersection and the width of the west sidewalk.

See my earlier posts:

More Monona Council Report  September 09, 2009 (Favorite comment: Travis said... Ugh, are you KIDDING ME? I hadn't realized that the 8' sidewalk thing was going to come up (again), or I would have been at the council meeting (again) to argue and point out that sidewalks and bike lanes are imperative to our quality of life.)
Anyway, back to the Isthmus story,

The Isthmus article says:

"The second phase will run from to Winnequah Road to Cottage Grove Road. It will add a median and turn pockets, as well as a designated bike path and continuous sidewalks."
That is inaccurate. There will not be a median in phase 2. No need for one in that stretch. There will be left turn bays only at the intersections and only for northbound traffic. Nor technically will be there be a designated "bike path". There will be bike lanes integrated into the street, which is quite different from a bike path.

And the Isthmus article says:

"The part that's really tough to swallow is they're only taking land from the Madison side," adds Kay Drew, who lives on the 4100 block of Monona Drive. "It's just odd that they are taking Madison property instead of Monona property."

That is also inaccurate.

Maybe the author has a sourcing problem. The article quotes city staff from Madison and Monona, but only quotes Madison alder Larry Palm and no elected officials from Monona or Dane County.

Finally, a story about a local political issue really ought to tell the reader when the governing bodies will consider the issue.Not only did the Isthmus article not do so, but it was posted on March 4 a day after the Madison Board of Public Works considered the street design. Next up is the Madison city council on March 16.

Frankly, if we messed up anything with this design it was not adding a right-turn only lane for traffic northbound Monona Drive to turn onto Cottage Grove Road. That addition would have required taking the property on that corner and it never really got a serious review. I don't think the engineers thought the traffic models justified it either. 
Postscript: I tried to email the author to ask him about some of the questions I have raised here, but he has no email address available on the Isthmus web site (Huh? OK, I don't have a cell phone, but a web-based journalist with no email address?).


March 6, 2010. I am informed by the Monona City Engineer (via the Mayor) that regarding Monona Drive, Phase II, the Madison Board of Public Works approved a cross-section with 5-foot sidewalks on each side of the roadway.  The Madison Board said that if the City of Monona wishes to have a sidewalk greater than 5 feet, then all construction and additional ROW to accommodate such would come from the Monona side with no adjustment to centerline alignment. 

Previously, the proposed cross-section would be centered in the ROW, meaning that the additional width for the sidewalk would have been shared equally on both sides. This will have an affect two ways: additional ROW acquisition and cost, and possible issues with driveway grades and retaining walls. 


  1. Doug, let me introduce you to the gooogle. Google, meet Doug Wood.


  2. Silly me, I thought Isthmus might list his email address.