East Johnson Street to close on Halloween; parents concerned about trick-or-treater safety

The city of Madison announced that East Johnson Street will close from Baldwin Street to First Street starting at 7 a.m. on Halloween through 5 a.m Nov. 4.

The closure is the next phase of a major construction project. For the past several months, Johnson Street has been down to one lane each way.

“This whole thing has been going on for several months now,” said parent and resident Tim Stumm. “It’s been kind of a headache.”

Stumm said he has seen the traffic get worse in his neighborhood ever since this Johnson Street construction project started. Stumm said with the number of kids who go trick-or-treating in his neighborhood, the start date of this phase of the construction project should be pushed back to ensure kids are as safe as possible in as little traffic as possible.

“I’ve already seen a lot of increased traffic due to the construction and this will make the traffic even worse as they close down that other lane here on Johnson Street,” he said. “I’m just really concerned that there will just be an influx of cars right at rush hour, in the dark, coming through these side streets just as little kids are crossing streets.”

Stumm said with the lack of street lighting in his neighborhood, it will be even more dangerous on Halloween when kids are out walking in the streets as more cars filling up the roads as well.

Stumm said one of his neighbors asked the city to postpone its construction plan by one day to keep kids as safe as possible on Halloween but the city said it couldn’t make that happen.

“It is not as easy as just pushing it off,” said the city of Madison engineering division’s public information officer Hannah Mohelnitzky. “It takes a lot of coordination. We have contractors, subcontractors, crews, that have all scheduled for this closure.”

Mohelnitzky also said with construction season coming to a close, the city needs to get these projects done soon.

“Mother Nature is putting pressure on all of us,” she said.

Stumm said he doesn’t doubt the project needs to get done. He described the city’s reasons for needing to do the project as “all legitimate reasons. But, just due to the circumstances of Halloween happening tomorrow, it just seems like delaying one day to allow these kids to have a safer trick-or-treating experience just seems like it is worth any extra time on the back end for the construction project.”

Mohelnitzky said if it snows too much tonight or tomorrow morning, they may have to push off the project anyway but will post something on the city’s website if something changes. In the meantime, both Stumm and Mohelnitzky say to be on the lookout for kids on Halloween and be careful driving, no matter where you are.

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