Franklin St. mirror idea fails to gain traction

Port officials say unique suggestion won’t solve downtown traffic woes
Ozaukee Press staff

A citizen’s unique suggestion to use mirrors to ease the difficulty of turning from side streets onto Franklin Street in downtown Port Washington was considered by the Traffic Safety Committee Tuesday.

Convex mirrors could provide a view of Franklin Street that motorists currently don’t have, eliminating the need for drivers to edge into the intersection to see if they can safely cross traffic, members were told.

The suggestion was made by a resident to Street Commissioner J.D. Hoile, who said the person had seen mirrors used in Europe and thought they might be helpful.

“When you’re pulling out, it’s really tough,” Hoile said. “You really have to creep out.”

But committee members had more questions and concerns than praise for the idea, and they voted against the idea.

“I don’t see how that would work on Franklin Street,” Police Chief Kevin Hingiss, a member of the committee, said. “If you’re watching that, you’re not watching the pedestrians.”

He said he’s seen convex mirrors used at the end of driveways or alleys that open onto a busy road, but not on a busy downtown street. 

Hingiss also noted that there really isn’t a place in downtown to mount the mirrors.

“I say no to the mirrors,” Hingiss said.

Ald. John Sigwart, a member of the committee, concurred, saying, “I don’t think convex mirrors are the answer.”

He said the most viable answer to the problem is to increase the distance cars can park from the intersections, saying that would give drivers a clearer look at oncoming traffic.

“Then you’re losing parking — and parking is at a premium downtown,” City Administrator Mark Grams said, predicting an uproar from downtown merchants and residents if that was recommended.

Ald. Mike Gasper, a traffic engineer, sent a memo to Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven questioning the idea, saying that studies he found seem to indicate convex mirrors aren’t effective.

They may even have unintended consequences, Gasper said, distracting motorists from people crossing directly in front of them or reflecting sunlight into driver’s eyes.

Ald. Paul Neumyer, a retired police officer and committee member, said mirrors are more likely to become the target of vandals than an effective traffic aid.

“If they want us to consider some other solutions, fine, but convex mirrors — they’re dead,” Sigwart concluded.


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