City needs to think big for John Nolen Drive intersection

City needs to think big for John Nolen Drive intersection

Madison again finds itself on the cusp of another decision that will help define its future. It's a familiar challenge: big ideas and vision balanced with practicality and money.

This one deals with the intersection of John Nolen Drive and Blair Street, a traffic nightmare called a "hairball" intersection.

But the outcome will affect traffic, including bike and pedestrian access, along the lakefront from North Shore Drive to Williamson Street to East Washington Avenue and beyond. And it will affect how a very important piece of our downtown looks and functions.

The city is currently considering some pretty straightforward engineering changes. But there is also a group of designers and architects who are proposing a dramatic re-imagining of the thoroughfare, including a deck over John Nolen Drive, a plan that somewhat resembles Chicago's Millennial Park.

The first public meeting on potential plans is Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Monona Terrace. There are many questions to be answered. We have one request: don't rule out big ideas yet.

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