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Appleton's College Avenue could see lane changes in the near future

College Avenue in Appleton, January 25, 2023. (WLUK/Lydia Andersen){ }
College Avenue in Appleton, January 25, 2023. (WLUK/Lydia Andersen)
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APPLETON (WLUK) -- College Avenue could be seeing some changes in the near future.

City officials are proposing the street switch from four lanes to three from Richmond Street to Drew Street.

There would be one lane on each side, then a turn lane in the middle.

Engineers say it will create room to put in bike lanes, as well as improve speed and safety.

City Traffic Engineer Eric Lom says other cities that have done this have seen a 20% to 50% decrease in crashes.

"It includes reducing speed. It includes reducing noise. Much, much safer for left turners and also just safer in general because the speeds tend to drop," says Lom.

People around Appleton had varying opinions on this possible change.

"I think they just should leave it the same. I think it's going to cause more problems then it cures... how are people going to parallel park? And it may clog up that straight lane with all the traffic lanes," says Richard Tietz.

Tietz says if this change goes into effect, he will avoid College Avenue.

"I'll go around it as much as possible," says Tietz.

Others agreed with Tietz at first.

"I think it should stay to four lanes, I have about a three-mile commute into the office everyday, and I haven't had any issues coming in on a four lane road. I think reducing it down to one will make everyone's life a little bit harder," says Ed McCarter.

But once he heard about the possibility of bike lanes, he started to changed his mind.

"Then I would be all for it. I think just to control traffic flow, it would be a mistake, but if they were going to use that space for other options such as a protected bike lane, I think it would do a lot for the downtown area," says McCarter.

When asked about parallel parking and bike lanes, Lom said it was certainly something they looked at. "People do have to cross the bike lane to get to the parking lane, but we've been doing that in Appleton for quite some time now in other places and haven't really seen any issues."

Lom says there are disadvantages to this possible change.

"It does increase congestion during those peak hours in the morning, and that peak hour in the afternoon, just a little bit, the average driver would see about one minute longer," says Lom.

The Public Works Department developed a timeline for the project.

"Assuming we get a favorable response and the project moves forward, it would likely occur in the summer of 2023," says Director of Public Works Danielle Block.

Block says the cost of the project would be around $130,000.

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The city will present to the municipal services committee in February.

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