Although Madison’s Downtown Coordinating Committee approved several recommendations for the State Street redesign project Wednesday, the future of the project remains uncertain.
The committee convened Wednesday for what was intended to be a meeting to make final recommendations to the City Council about the redesign project before the council voted March 19.
However, due to a Board of Estimates action Monday to delay allocating funds for the project until later this month, the coordinating committee did not take final action on all project recommendations.
Design-element recommendations discussed at the meeting include the look and structure of bus shelters, design of bus shelter benches and the use of anti-graffiti film to protect bus shelters from vandalism.
Committee members expressed concern that anti-graffiti efforts might become too expensive and expressed the desire that bus-shelter benches discourage bus users from lying down.
The committee also discussed the project’s funding and available sources of finances.
Mark Webster, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., addressed committee members’ concerns regarding $900,000 in federal highway money, obtained by Baldwin and U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., which is allocated for the State Street redesign.
Webster said it is important to spend the money, known as an earmark, before Sept. 30 to ensure the money is not lost. He said the State Street redesign project would not likely be able to receive the money again.
“Chances for this exact funding getting the earmark again is unlikely,” Webster said.
Committee chair Mary Lang Sollinger said because the funds were obtained for the State Street project specifically, she did not want to spend the money on any side street improvements.
“It’s not ethically right to take money from Congress and use it on side streets,” Sollinger said. The committee will continue approving recommendations for the project at its next meeting, scheduled for April 3, before the City Council takes up the project design for a vote at its meeting April 9.