College Avenue Bridge expansion referendum on the ballot Tuesday

Aidan Clark

Debate over the potential expansion of the bridge on College Avenue has raised concerns from the Lawrence University community as well as from the larger Appleton community.The proposed widening is meant to relieve congestion on College Avenue, but Professor Carol Lawton and others are against expanding the bridge to four lanes.

According to Lawton, the Department of Transportation claims that the expansion would send about 8,000 more cars per day through the street, the opposite of what bride-supporters hope to achieve. The increased traffic would cause the deterioration of College Avenue and would not help to preserve the character of the historic residential area near the bridge, said Lawton.

The Lawrence community is also sensitive to the problems that the bridge expansion would cause for students of the University. Lawton expressed her concern for the students’ safety when crossing College Avenue to reach University buildings.

Students of the Conservatory of Music–and others who frequently cross the avenue–would find it more difficult to do so with the increase in traffic brought by the four-lane bridge.

In addition, Dean Hemwall expressed her opposition to the bridge expansion by saying that it would “change the nature of the school and the neighborhood.” She was also concerned about the impact that the increased traffic would have on student safety.

Both Hemwall and Lawton also expressed their concern with the fact that it is possible that the city of Appleton would be saddled with the bill, by way of taxes, if the bridge expansion takes place-since it would no longer be state property.

Lawrence University graduate and trustee Margaret Carroll is also opposed to the potential bridge expansion. As a resident in the area near the bridge, this situation has a direct impact on her; she also cited safety, the speed of traffic, and the possibility that College Avenue would be used more often as a through-street as issues, adding that if the bridge is widened to four lanes it could potentially “ruin the nice entrance into the city” that the bridge currently creates.

Loss of trees as the land is used for road would take away from the neighborhood, said Carroll. Air quality issues and faster traveling traffic are also issues that have been raised, but concerns about safety and preserving the historic nature of the neighborhood are the most common.

The referendum asking voters if College Avenue should be reconstructed will be placed on the election ballot on April 6.