By Alex Wright, Howard Hayes and Kate Ferguson, GCC LOFT staff
As part of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, celebrated every year on the third Monday in January, middle schoolers from the east side community affiliated with the Goodman Community Center embarked on a service-learning project. Service learning at Goodman focuses exclusively on community involvement and improvement.
With the support of staff, middle schoolers came together to “brainstorm” about east side traffic areas that have proven hazardous — especially at crosswalks and intersections. Students discussed situations whereby classmates are regularly “dodging” automobiles at multiple eastside intersections. The overwhelming consensus of the middle schoolers suggests there’s a need to increase crosswalk safety, especially on the corner of Waubesa Street and Atwood Avenue.
The back story includes a history of GCC students walking to the BP gas station to purchase snack items unavailable at the Center. Due to the dangerous nature of that intersection, staff advise students to take an alternate route or avoid it altogether. The pressing issue, however, is the volume of walking and automobile traffic Waubesa Street gets because of programs held at Brassworks and Ironworks — heavily traveled to destinations for those living in and outside the community.
These intelligent young people identified the problem and the fix, and devised a strategy that included writing to Goodman’s east side alder. One student in particular, Louis Puleopincus, was the only middle schooler to email Grant Foster, District 15 alder.
Foster followed with a reply on how to contact Renee Callaway, Madison’s pedestrian bicycle administrator, one of the members of Safe Streets Madison. The Safe Streets Madison program is intended to improve walking/biking safety, as well as make walking and biking easier and more accessible for people of all ages and abilities. Puleopincus was able to get on the Feb. 9 agenda for the Safe Streets Madison hearing via Zoom.
LOFT staff pulled together a small group of youth to watch the meeting for approximately 45 minutes. The meeting was extremely informative on how to move forward.
Alder Foster stopped by to visit LOFT middle school and high school students Feb. 15. The visit went well, and many students were excited to talk with him about getting a crosswalk light put in at the intersection. Foster recommended the transportation commission approve interim measures ahead of a flashing light crosswalk installation to be installed next year.
Following that recommendation, the commission approved new continental crossing markings (wide white stripes running parallel to the curb for higher visibility) with pedestrian crossing signs to be installed this year. Crossing flags are already available for use. Next year the flags will be replaced by new flashing lights. The testimony of the youth made all the difference!
"I am very happy with the results of the Atwood-Waubesa crosswalk improvement project," Puleopincus said. "I never thought this would happen."
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