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Public Sees Proposed Rhinelander Downtown Upgrade


The architects  formally revealed the compromise choice for the traffic pattern and design in a redeveloped downtown Rhinelander last night.  As part of a city and Downtown Rhinelander, Inc. project, the city will undertake underground reconstruction and the streets and sidewalks will be rebuilt through a redesign.

After a public meeting in April, the design team took the input and after several more meetings came up with a compromise, having two-way traffic with angle parking on one side, parallel parking on the other.

Suzanne Vincent from architectural firm Vierbicher says the availability of parking was a factor in the design..

"....the west side has all that parking in the rear and we're doing parallel parking on that side, but keeping the angle parking on the other side because there's somewhat limited parking behind the buildings. That way we can shrink the travel way a little bit to get wider sidewalks without losing too much parking...."

There is interest in having a one way on Brown Street, but concerns arose from city officials about having the street running one way and the police and fire departments couldn't go against traffic to respond to an emergency. Gary Becker from Vierbicher says the trend among cities is to eliminate one way traffic in favor of two way.

Mike Hastreiter.who owns Bucketheads Sports Bar  thinks the upgrade will help bring more business downtown...

"...any time you can have wider sidewalks for the specialty stores that have outside retail on the sidewalks. Bars and restaurants to have seating during our short summertime months people don't want to be inside. Any time we can offer them outside is a plus, and with more foot traffic I think these vacant stores will fill up...."

The city has already received a $3.7 million guarantee from USDA for the underground upgrade, likely in 2016. The plan is to take more input from last night's meeting, rework a few things, then make a formal presentation to the Rhinelander city council on September 24.

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