City opts for a road less taken to City Center
Wilbur decision discourages shortcut route
New Berlin - Wilbur Drive will be closed at a key point near City Center in an effort to dissuade drivers from using a residential neighborhood as a shortcut route.
New Berlin aldermen hope the move will reduce the amount of traffic cutting through the neighborhood to and from Sunny Slope Road east of the mixed-use commercial complex while not completely eliminating the center's access for neighbors.
A slower route
Blocking Wilbur at Cottonwood Drive is a compromise from an earlier suggestion that Wilbur be cut off completely from the center's access at 147th Street.
The theory is that because the blockage would divert cut-through traffic north in a circle using Poplar Road, Redwood Drive and then Cottonwood Road to get back onto Wilbur on the other side of the blockage, motorists would drop Wilbur as a shortcut.
But even if traffic isn't reduced that much, Alderman Dave Ament sees the plan as slowing cars down because they have to make so many turns. Wilbur is such a straight shot into the City Center that complaints of speeding from neighbors are common.
The questions remaining are how Wilbur is to be blocked off and how much it will cost. The Board of Public Works began working on that Monday. Ament, who is board chairman, said he will strive for a design that would enable pedestrians and bicyclists to get through the blockage.
Problems with limited access
Alderwoman Deena Liska cast the sole vote against partially blocking access, saying her constituents are overwhelmingly against closing Wilbur Drive. She urged that the Board of Public Works look at options to the compromise plan.
Liska said she understands the Wilbur residents' concerns because she lives on a busy residential street that feeds into Target on Moorland Road.
"It's not overwhelmingly a problem," she said, adding that it would be more of a problem if her street were closed off.
Mayor Jack Chiovatero agreed that the public, in general, doesn't seem to support complete closure. For every email he has received in favor, he has five or six who wanted it to remain open, he said.
Chiovatero said he now regrets his Plan Commission vote to completely close off access from Wilbur. At the time, he believed the majority of people wanted it closed, "but that's not the case," he said.
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