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Hopkins Corridor Analysis
The Hopkins corridor runs primarily north and south, starting from N. 35th St. and W. Congress St. and moving south along N. 35th St. to W. Capitol Dr. The corridor then runs east across W. Capitol Dr., a major thoroughfare, before turning south again along N. 31st St., which quickly becomes W. Hopkins St. The corridor ends at N. 24th Pl., just after W. Hopkins St. intersects with W. Townsend St. The streets of the Hopkins corridor are more commercial in character and have higher traffic volumes than the neighborhood streets of the Townsend corridor.
The northernmost section of the corridor, N. 35th St., currently features two travel lanes in each direction and no bicycle facilities. However, the traffic volume is low enough that one lane in each direction would suffice. Removing two travel lanes would leave plenty of space in the current curb-to-curb width for adding bicycle facilities, such as buffered or protected bike lanes. Additionally, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District is working on a storm water management basin and flood control project between N. 35th St. and the railroad tracks to the east, which could provide an opportunity for a section of multi-use trail parallel to the roadway.
For bicyclists travelling northbound along the corridor, a shortcut around the major intersection of N. 35th St. and W. Capitol Dr. could be created using W. Hopkins St. and N. 34th St. The outlet of this section of W. Hopkins St. also lines up with W. Hope Ave., which could be a candidate for a future east-west neighborhood boulevard connection. However, bicyclists using this shortcut when traveling southbound along the corridor would need a traffic signal to safely turn left at W. Capitol Dr.
Bicyclists who do navigate the intersection of N. 35th St. and W. Capitol Dr. must contend with speeding and erratic driving. Pedestrians also struggle to cross this intersection safely due to the sheer width of W. Capitol Dr. One alternative to the current signalized intersection is a large roundabout or series of roundabouts along W. Capitol Dr, which would both streamline and slow vehicle traffic flow. However, removing stoplights can cause other challenges for bicyclists and pedestrians trying to cross traffic even though drivers are legally required to yield. Other traffic controls like Rapid Rectangular Flashing Beacons would probably be needed to ensure safety for all road users.
Along W. Capitol Dr. itself, a two-way cycle track along the south side of the street would provide significant protection for bicyclists navigating such a busy arterial. The south side of the street has more space than the north side because it used to accommodate industrial truck traffic. The railroad bridge crossing over this section of W. Capitol Dr. is currently still an active rail corridor, but if it ever becomes a Rails-to-Trails multi-use path, W. Capitol Dr. could be an excellent connection point. Space is more limited east of the bridge, but the adjacent Century City Business Park is owned by the City of Milwaukee. In theory, some space from this property could be added to the public right-of-way if necessary.
From W. Capitol Dr., the corridor turns south onto N. 31st St. The protected two-way cycle track could continue along the right-turn-only lane that connects these two streets in order to guide cyclists through the intersection. The two-way cycle track could then split back into one lane on either side of the street for the remainder of N. 31st St. and along W. Hopkins St. This section of the corridor currently has 5’ painted bike lanes that do provide space for bicyclists travelling in the area. However, many improvements could still be made to provide bicyclists with additional protection. The road is already fairly wide, and since demand for parking is extremely low along these two streets, one side of parking could be removed to create even more space if needed. The current bike lanes could be built up in phases over time. For example, first a painted buffer could be added to the current lane, then temporary bollards could be installed, and later a solid curb could be built to completely separate bicyclists from other vehicles.
Currently, this part of W. Hopkins St. is not connected to many of the neighborhood streets to the east. While sidewalks do allow pedestrians to pass through easily, vehicles cannot cut through at all and bicyclists must use the sidewalk. These near-connections could be opened up to bicyclists while still restricting vehicle access if the residents are concerned about through-traffic. For pedestrian safety, these connection points would also be good locations to add midblock crosswalks across W. Hopkins St.
As the corridor continues south along W. Hopkins St. to its end at N. 24th Pl., the land use along the street transitions from vacant lots to commercial activity. This change in use creates greater demand for parking and pedestrian facilities, so finding space for protected bike lanes could be more difficult. Additionally, careful attention would need to be paid to how these bicycle facilities interact with the bus stops along the corridor. Finally, W. Hopkins St. also has many angled intersections that can create challenges for vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians alike. When streets undergo reconstruction, adjusting their alignment to make right-angle intersections could help establish a safer environment for all users.