MADISON, Wis. - The Madison Common Council voted Tuesday night to approve big changes for a major Madison thoroughfare, despite some opposition from area businesses.
Out of 20 votes, 18 council members approved the plan to go forward with changes to Sherman Avenue that would include taking the road from four car lanes to five lanes overall. Two people were absent from the vote.
"It will be a bike lane on each side, a car lane on each side, and then a center turn lane. And at some intersections, we'll be adding some key pedestrian islands, so it will be safer to cross the street," said Alderwoman Satya Rhodes-Conway, who represents Madison's District 12.
Construction on the project is likely to start this summer.
Tuesday's snowfall gave residents a preview of what Sherman Avenue would feel like with just one lane each direction. Nearby business owners said they're fine with the seasonal inconvenience, but a permanent change may be too much to handle.
Steve Nelson is the owner of DuWayne's Salon, which has been located on Sherman Avenue for 50 years.
"(About) 17,000 vehicles go down Sherman Avenue a day," Nelson said. "If you've got that many cars on two lanes, how is somebody going to be able to get across the street?"
Nelson said he worries the changes would divert vehicle traffic, taking a cut into his bottom line.
"And if you lose 5 percent of your traffic, that's 850 cars a day that don't go down Sherman Avenue," Nelson said. "You lose 850 cars going by your business. It's tough."
"I have, of course, heard from the businesses in the area," Rhodes-Conway said. "And believe me, if I thought this was going to harm business, there is no way I would be supporting it."19194940
Nelson said he remained doubtful ahead of the council's decision Tuesday.
"It's not safe to ride your bike down Sherman Avenue. If you go down to two lanes, it's still not going to be safe," Nelson said.
Rhodes-Conway's time on the Madison Common Council ends this April. She is not seeking re-election.
The alder said the timing of the proposal is unfortunate but she said her proposal has been discussed over several months.
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