Washington’s traffic commission supports the city’s push for a new bike path.
At its June 2 meeting, the commission approved a resolution in favor of the proposed Busch Creek Greenway. The city is seeking grant funding from the East-West Gateway Council of Governments to construct a new bike path along Busch Creek.
Because the path would involve a stretch on city streets, the traffic committee was asked to weigh in on the proposal.
The proposal calls for a mixture of on- and off-street trails. The project would involve the city constructing a 10-foot path along Busch Creek on city-owned property and adding more signs and street “sharrows” — painted markings on the street to show the road should be shared between bicyclists and vehicles — on city streets.
The path would start at the trailhead at Jefferson and Eighth streets and move east to eventually connect to the eastern entrance of the Rotary Riverfront Trail.
City Planner Sal Maniaci said the proposed path would be on city streets from MacArthur heading north until it reached Eighth Street. From there, the path would head south onto Camp Street and then go east on Ninth Street until it went back off-street at Ninth and International.
During a public hearing May 31, several residents along the on-street portion of the trail voiced concerns about the proposed path. Multiple residents brought up the issue of speeding drivers.
Police Chief Ed Menefee said his officers would do enforcement in the area and could do some now even without the Greenway being designated. He said the police could put out the radar trailer in hopes of getting people to slow down in the area.
Maniaci said another trouble area pointed out at the public hearing was MacArthur Street. Maniaci said the residents living along the street don’t want the increased traffic.
The committee discussed alternative routes around MacArthur, but couldn’t find one it liked. One possible solution was to take the path south on Sunnyside Drive, east on Blue Jay Drive and then north on Highway 47.
No one was in favor of having bicyclists or walkers spending more time on Highway 47. Other routes encountered similar problems.
Eventually, Menefee said he didn’t feel like bike traffic on MacArthur would be much of a problem.
Menefee said he was in favor of the path because it did include a number of off-street portions that would be safer areas for bikers and runners.
City Engineer John Nilges pointed out the first leg of the path would provide a route from Washington High School to Jefferson Street that is entirely off city streets. He said this safe route would be the “biggest benefit” of the path and provide a safe trek for students heading downtown after school.
Assistant City Engineer Andrea Lueken echoed Nilges. As part of the proposal, the city would do sidewalk work on Sunnyside Drive to connect the school to the Greenway. Lueken said that work alone makes the proposed path a good project.
Street Superintendent Tony Bonastia said he liked the plan. He said as a bicyclist, it was a path he’d use.
The commission unanimously voted to pass along a vote of support to be included with the city’s grant application.
At Monday’s meeting, the city council formally voted to apply for the grant.
The grant application is due June 19.
Maniaci said if the grant is approved, the city is targeting a May 2019 start date for the work with hopes the project is finished by that August.