West State Street problems launch another spirited discussion as solutions are sought

By Jennifer Eisenbart

Staff writer

It’s back to the drawing board for the City of Burlington Common Council as it tries to deal with a potentially dangerous situation involving crosswalks on West State Street.

This time, after about 45 minutes of discussion Tuesday night, the council agreed to let city staff pursue a cost estimate for placing flashing lights – similar to what is in place at Veterans Terrace on Milwaukee Avenue – at the Elmwood Avenue crosswalk.

The crosswalk at Maple Avenue would then be eliminated.

The situation with cars passing other cars stopped for pedestrians at the crosswalks has resulted in spirited discussion at each of the last two Committee of the Whole meetings, as the aldermen agreed there is an issue on West State Street – but seemed unable to agree on a solution.

The flashing lights for the crosswalks came about as other ideas were either voted down at the first discussion or discarded Tuesday night.

Department of Public Works Supervisor Dan Jansen came back with three options Tuesday night: the original idea of placing lane delineators to narrow the street (which would also result in no parking zones), to paint the area with white striping to show where the traffic lane is while still allowing traffic, or to stripe and enhance the striping with reflective road markers.

All three options met with some form of resistance. Alderman Tom Vos said he spoke with a disabled resident whose most accessible parking area is on the street.

“He told me personally, ‘I’m not very much in favor of it,’” Vos explained.

Alderman Katie Simenson objected to the temporary nature of the proposals – items or markings that drivers could simply drive over or through. She also wondered why a median – which had been considered in February – wasn’t being considered now.

City of Burlington Police Chief Peter Nimmer also cautioned that the striping and delineators are, essentially, non-enforceable, as the city cannot consider anyone in violation of them.

One matter was agreed on – that local motorists aren’t exactly respectful of pedestrian traffic.

“It’s all in the driver recognition,” said Vos. “It’s all about education.”

There was a wisecrack as the conversation wrapped up, as Vos added, “I think the budget looks easy compared to this.”