Wells Street median still in works

  • Plans are in place to begin construction on a median dividing Wells Street.
  • Plans for a median were first announced last fall and construction was supposed to be completed on Dec. 1.
  • But construction was delayed by factors such as weather, an overloaded city government and university efforts to enhance the median's design.
  • The median aims to make crossing Wells Street safer for pedestrians.

Despite months of delays, city and university officials say plans for a median dividing Wells Street are being finalized and the project is ready to begin this spring.

The aim of the median is to assist pedestrians crossing Wells Street by giving them a safe place to stop in the middle of the street.

The current plan is to begin construction between 12th and 16th Streets in April or May. It will take three to four weeks to build, according to 4th District Alderman Robert Bauman.

The university and the Milwaukee Department of Public Works met on Jan. 23 to put "the final touches on everything," said Marquette Student Government President Ray Redlingshafer.

"(The median) will absolutely be done by the end of the school year," said Redlingshafer, a senior in the College of Business Administration.

When MUSG discussed the proposed median last fall, the project was slated to be completed by Dec. 1. The cause of the delay can be pegged to numerous factors.

Rana Altenburg, vice president of the Office of Public Affairs for the university, said the combination of the weather and the university's desire to design the median to its standards slowed the project.

"We felt it was better to just wait and do it in the spring," she said. "There is certainly not a lack of commitment on the part of the city or university."

The university architect is still working to finalize the design, Altenburg said. She expected that a sketch and final plan would be ready to show to MUSG and the student body in February.

Bauman said poor weather and the city being overloaded with other tasks were major factors.

"Which isn't a good reason, but that's the explanation," Bauman said.

He was unhappy it has taken so long to begin construction.

"I think it's a problem that we didn't get it done last fall when we were supposed to," he said.

The city initially planned a simple concrete median. The university later decided to design the median so that it would mirror the one on Wisconsin Avenue.

"The university architect wanted it to serve a dual purpose," Bauman said, meaning the median could beautify campus as well as protect pedestrians.

Specifically, the planned median will be gated and lined with trees, Redlingshafer said.

He said the median would be "very nice looking, very aesthetically pleasing."

Redlingshafer said MUSG worked to ensure all the trees were native, in order to be more environmentally friendly.

"They wanted to do this right," he said. "The university wants it to look nice, and understandably so."

If the project had been pushed to be completed faster, it would not have been able to meet the university's expectations, Redlingshafer said.

Bauman said the addition of trees to the plan slowed the process down on the city's end because the trees would require deep roots and additional surveying work had to be done to first check for underground utilities.

The city will pay for the basic median and Marquette will pay the cost of additions to the median, such as trees, an irrigation system and fencing on the median, Altenburg said.

Exact figures on cost are unavailable because the design is still being worked on and the city has not yet decided on a contractor.

"In short, it's moving," Redlingshafer said. "You just can't see any of it moving now."