Hotel patrons blamed for downtown traffic woes

OFFICIALS HOPE A one-way sign on East Grand Avenue across from the Harborview hotel parking lot in downtown Port Washington will stop motorists from turning in the wrong direction — a problem that has been occurring with regularity in recent months. This photo shows the sign on the one-way portion of East Grand Avenue, with motorists to the west seen in the background turning from the two-way portion of Grand Avenue onto Franklin Street, the main road in downtown. Photo by Bill Schanen IV
Ozaukee Press staff

Drivers leaving the Harborview hotel parking lot in downtown Port Washington have been snarling traffic by heading the wrong way on East Grand Avenue.

There haven’t necessarily been many accidents due to the confusion, but it’s a situation that needs fixing, members of the city’s Traffic Safety Committee agreed Oct. 21.

“I think this is happening a lot more than we think,” Ald. John Sigwart, a member of the committee, said.

The problem is in the most easternmost block of East Grand Avenue, between the hotel parking lot and Smith Bros. Coffee Shop. It’s a one-way street going east, but drivers leaving the hotel have been heading west toward Franklin Street instead.

Those motorists not only find it difficult to turn onto Franklin Street and westbound Grand Avenue, where pedestrians are crossing the street and traffic doesn’t stop, they also block other drivers trying to head east on Grand Avenue.

There is a one-way sign on the street, Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said, and there’s also an arrow painted on the driveway pavement pointing to the east.

“Do you think people are turning left (from the hotel) because they don’t see the sign?” he asked.

Committee member and Police Chief Kevin Hingiss said the fact that the hotel driveway is just a half-block from Franklin Street is likely the issue.

“I think a lot of people see it’s right there and head that way,” he said.

Ald. Deb Postl, a member of the committee, had a simpler explanation.

“They don’t care,” she said.

Part of the issue, Postl added, may be the fact that a portion of East Grand Avenue heads into the parking lot behind the coffeehouse and Duluth Trading Co., and from there drivers make their way to Main Street and then Franklin Street.

“For those people not familiar to Port Washington, I think it might be very uncomfortable to turn out into a parking lot,” she said.

Vanden Noven noted that the city had planned to put a “No left turn” sign on Grand Avenue at the hotel driveway, but it hasn’t been installed yet.

That will be done before the end of the year, he said.

Next year, Vanden Noven said, the city can reconfigure the curb at the hotel driveway that will force drivers toward the east.

“I think that would be the best solution,” Hingiss said.

In the meantime, Postl said, the best solution might be education.

“I think we should work with the hotel so they communicate (the traffic issue) with their guests,” she said.


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