July 25, 2008
Finance committee stalls $19K study on two-way streets
Mayor Gary Becker seems to get most of what he wants from city government. But when it comes to one-way vs. two-way streets, his political reach isn't quite long enough.
The city's Personnel and Finance Committee took a step worse than rejecting the mayor's request to study making MLK Drive and Marquette Drive two-way streets off of State Street. The committee voted to table the request, more effectively killing it than actually killing it.
By refusing to take an up-or-down vote on the $19,000 request to study the streets, the committee simply held the proposal. That means it can't advance to the City Council (the proposal had passed another committee) for at least another month.
Director of Public Works Rick Jones told the committee a decision was needed soon so any changes to the streets could be worked into the state's plans to rebuild State Street. The committee was unswayed.
Alderman Michael Shields was the most vocal critic. He said the $19K seemed like a waste of money on two streets that seem to be working fine. City resident George Meyers agreed, telling the committee it should leave the streets alone.
The committee itself was stuck because it had to come up with the $19K. There seem to be no obvious places to take the money from.
Committee Chairman Tom Friedel explained that tabling the proposal would bury the request, which first came before the group in March. The Traffic Commission deferred the proposal twice before approving it in June. The Public Works and Services Committee approved the $19K in May.
Shields said the committee should hold onto the proposal because he didn't trust the full council. "They might just rubber stamp it because it's something the mayor wants to do," he said.
The committee voted on unanimous voice vote to table the motion.
The proposal will next come up at a neighborhood meeting the mayor is holding on July 30 at the MLK Center. Becker will ask residents at the meeting about converting the streets into two-way traffic.