Additional information and a recording of last Thursday's neighborhood meeting about the proposed apartment development at 5602-5606 Schroeder Road are available here https://www.cityofmadison.com/council/district20/blog/?Id=26715
If you just want to view the meeting click this link https://media.cityofmadison.com/Mediasite/Channel/neighborhood_meeting/watch/c2e3d658085445ac929776b77162ba7e1d
It seems that this was the only "neighborhood meeting" planned for residents to ask questions and express their concerns. The developer is expected to make an application to the City for approval of his plans in August. The remaining meetings will be formal hearings at the Urban Design Commission (September 21) and the Plan Commission (October 3) in which residents are limited in their ability to ask questions and give feedback.
The architect/engineer representing the developer spoke for the first 15 minutes or so. The project is 80 apartments (13 studios, 2 studio+loft, 30 1-bedroom, 2 1-bedroom+den, 12 1-bedroom+loft, 21 2-bedroom). Parking is an important issue. The project would have 101 parking spaces (71 underground and 30 surface spaces). The City planner said at 19:30 in the video that the parking ratio for this type of development is 0.9 parking spaces per unit. This seems low for our area. People living in a two bedroom unit probably have more cars than people living in a studio. It makes more sense to me to estimate needed parking for residents as one space per unit plus a half space for a loft/den/second bedroom, assuming that half of those with lofts/dens will use them as bedrooms So, 80 units (one space each) plus 37 lofts/dens/second bedrooms (0.5 spaces each) comes to 99 parking spaces to accommodate all residents. That leaves two parking spaces for guests. Overflow parking will be on Schroeder Ct, Saybrook Rd, Friar Ln and other side streets, and in the parking lots of nearby businesses.
Everyone who spoke at the meeting mentioned that this is a very compact, crowded, busy, congested area on Schroeder Road. Many said that they feel unsafe walking, driving and riding bicycles on this part of the street. It is especially a problem if a driver wants to turn right and proceed South on Whitney Way.
Attached is a screenshot of the area with measurements thanks to Google. And a little traffic info thanks to WisDOT https://wisdot.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=2e12a4f051de4ea9bc865ec6393731f8
and the City of Madison
According to WisDOT, in 2018, 3,100 cars each day took the East Bound exit off of the Beltline at Whitney Way. According to the City, 19,850 cars each day travel on the East end of Schroeder Road. The traffic count on Schroeder at Forward Dr is 12,600 cars.
Wisconsin law requires a driver to signal a lane change or turn at least 100 feet prior to the lane change or turn. Beginning at 53:15 in the recording, a City traffic engineer states that traffic is traveling at perhaps 35-40 mph (this is a 30 mph zone) and thus a turning car should have at least 400 feet of distance to see oncoming traffic. Using the map screenshot,
1) looking to the East, it is just 300 feet to the Whitney Way crosswalk from the exit. Again, Wisconsin law requires that a driver signal 100 feet before changing lanes or making a turn. This is just barely possible for people who wish to turn right to go South on Whitney Way since they must cross four lanes of traffic, first the on-coming Schroeder Road West Bound traffic, dodging cars turning left coming out of Vitense, and then three lanes of East Bound traffic within that 300 feet. Three lanes times 100 feet equals the very minimum needed under state law if everything goes perfectly. Numerous speakers said that this is very scary for drivers and bicycle riders of all ages but especially for older drivers;
2) looking to the West from the off-ramp, it is just over 200 feet to the entrance of the Tailor Place Apartments. It will be even less to the entrance of the proposed new development. It seems a bit hard to believe that a driver will have an additional 200 feet beyond the entrances to the apartment projects due to landscaping and discarded furniture often left on the terrace.
To avoid this exit, one speaker said that she drives down to Verona Road and turns South then comes back West on Raymond Road and then back North on Whitney Way. That extra distance could be as much as 3.75 extra miles. We can only assume that hundreds of other drivers are doing the same. How many extra miles are driven, how much extra gasoline is consumed, how much extra pollution, and much extra expense are incurred by taking this "scenic route" back to Orchard Ridge, Meadowood, Greentree and other Southwest side neighborhoods? Is anyone measuring the enlarged CO2 footprint caused by this awful off-ramp and the shortsightedness of our City and State leaders? The City Council recently passed an ordinance requiring dimmer light bulbs outside your front door, but over the course of numerous years it seems to have done nothing to work with WisDOT to fix this dangerous off-ramp.
There were other concerns about siting more housing at this location including the roaring noise of the beltline and the pollution that comes with the 83,000 vehicles (2018) that drive along this section of the Beltline each day. Research again and again has shown that noise and air pollution are extremely detrimental to good health. And this has become an important equity issue.
The City traffic engineer at 25:50 in the video says that at present there are no plans to change the off-ramp to make it safer. The Community Crash Map https://transportal.cee.wisc.edu/partners/community-maps/crash/search/BasicSearch.do gives a visual presentation of the crashes at this location. A surprisingly small number of crashes seem to have occurred at the exit and nobody has been killed in a crash in the last five years. I asked a friend who is familiar with transportation project funding and he said that, frankly, if nobody is being killed or seriously injured, the project is unlikely to get a high ranking in the list of projects to be funded.
The Beltline is again the subject of a major study by WisDOT. Check out the link here https://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/projects/by-region/sw/madisonbeltline/default.aspx
One person who attended brought up the point that if the apartments are built at this location, it would decrease the amount of land possibly needed to fix this off-ramp when authorities finally get around to it. Again I talked with one of my friends who is familiar with the issue and he said that the State could force the owners of the Coppertop and Vitense to sell some of their land to the State for the project. It seems like a horrible choice, putting the Coppertop and Vitense out of business because the State failed to obtain the necessary land when it was available, which now.
If you are interested in working to make this project a higher priority, please consider writing and calling our local officials representing this part of Madison.
Assemblywoman Lisa Subeck
Telephone: (608) 266-7521, (888) 534-0078
Assemblywoman Shelia Stubbs
Telephone: (608) 266-3784, (888) 534-0077
State Senator Kelda Roys
Telephone: (608) 266-1627
And this list of WisDOT officials working on the Beltline study.
Jeff Berens; WisDOT Major Studies Project Manager
Daniel Schave, P.E.; WisDOT Major Studies Project Supervisor
Michael Bie; WisDOT Southwest Region Communications Manager