A bike lane and sidewalk are now included in the reconstruction plans for W. Drexel Ave.
The move comes on the heels of a new law requiring any road project that receives state or federal funding to include on-street bike facilities and off-street pedestrian accommodations.
Drexel Avenue from 27th Street to the Interstate will become a four-lane divided highway next year, which is also when the new Drexel Interchange will be constructed.
The city is reconstructing a segment of the road flanked on both ends by DOT-funded construction, which will have the bike and pedestrian facilities. The city initially balked at the improvements because of the cost, but decided to include it to mesh with the DOT's plans.
The Common Council on Tuesday approved an amendment to the reconstruction plan that will require an additional $52,000 in city money to make the necessary design changes. The bike lane accounts for about $35,000 of that cost.
Alderman Ken Gehl cast the lone vote in opposition to the amendment, saying he did not think many bicyclists would travel Drexel Avenue.
"When you live in Wisconsin, we have five months maybe of fair travel for bicycles and the rest is ice and slush," he said. "I'd be highly suspect it's worth our time."
But others argued that with the possible redevelopment of the Delphi site, which will likely include a housing component, the improvements are necessary.
"The face of Oak Creek has changed over the years and the face of this corridor, from 27th Street to the Delphi redevelopment, is going to be much different than what it is now," City Attorney Larry Haskin said.
Resident Chris Forrest said he bikes Drexel often to get to work and it’s a difficult stretch to ride. If gas prices remain high, it's likely that more people will use bicycles on the road, he said.
"With gas prices going up, it’s becoming a burden on families and one of the reasons I ride to work is to save some money," he said. "Having safer routes would encourage people to do those kinds of things."
In addition to the bike lane, the plan also calls for an off-street asphalt path that can be utilized by both bicyclists and pedestrians.