The Building of the Plans for Business 51

The Building of the Plans for Business 51

Lake Glodowski, Hour 2

Have you driven down Business 51 and seen signs saying “save Business 51 vote no on August 9th” and “Keep Church St. four lanes” or even “Vote yes on August 9th?” Now being a SPASH student most likely you wouldn’t care because you probably can’t vote currently and the referendum was already voted on. But there are many reasons why you should care about what is going on because it may be something you will vote on in a future election.

The August 9th referendum would have made it so the city didn’t have to pass a referendum if a road project exceeded over one million dollars. So did Business 51 have anything to do with the August 9t referendum? No, it didn’t have a direct connection to Business 51. But it did indirectly make it so any plan with Business 51 must be passed through the city in a form of a referendum. There is some necessary information about Business 51 you must know.

Business 51 is the combination of Division street to Church street. Business 51 is over 60 years old since major construction on it. Meleesa Johnson, a member of the Stevens Point common council, believed the road have exceeded its intended amount of time before reconstruction especially the utilities underneath. In other words, it served its purpose and we need to repair and improve it. The repairs to Business 51 of the alternative plan are estimated to be 48.41 million dollars according to Stevens Points official website. This is the amount of money that the current plan for Business 51 would cost.

So what are the current plans for Business 51? When interviewing Meleesa about the plans she listed things that would be included in the plan such as fiber improvement, storm sewers, sanitary, and main water. With the road, there would be a new telecommunications conduit added. She also stated that the plan had better lighting for Business 51. These are all normal things that are usually fixed when it comes to road construction and with the benefit of improvements.  Other fixes stated on the Steven Point website are the road will be 2-lane with raised median and connection to existing bicycle and pedestrian networks. So besides regular improvements, there will only be one lane going each way and a bike lane made.

This all seems great and some of the reasons why people are worried are they believe we should discuss more. But Ginger Keymer, who attends all the meetings about Business 51 and is also a City council member, worries about climbing prices. She stated that between 2021 to 2022 the price has risen by 30% for road construction. So the quicker we rebuild Business 51 the less we will have to pay because of inflation. Since the August 9th referendum was passed this means that we the people get to vote on the plan for Business 51.

So what are people’s opinions on the current plan for Business 51? On one side people are opposed to the current plan. Some are worried about property loss due to the plan. Many people believe that Business 51 should stay four-lane instead of two-lane with bike lanes. The speed of traffic will be slower and some people believe it will slow it down too much. Plus, the added confusion, makes people more opposed to the idea. Although there are two sides a majority of people believe it should be fixed to some degree, but some details make it more unlikeable.

Melissa did have hopeful words: “Change is always a challenge. I grew up in Stevens Point and remembered when Highway 10 went straight through downtown. I also remember when I-39 was just an idea called the “Bypass”. Many were concerned about those changes. But change did happen. We adapted, learned, and grew as a community.” Hopefully no matter what happens to the Business 51 plan we can still improve as one community.

Business 51 is just one small project that will affect Stevens Point. We must remember that whatever advance we make is Steven’s Point whether it is improving Business 51, fixing other streets, or implementing new laws. We all must do our part in helping the community improve.