Why are there flowers in the street? Winona trying curb extensions at intersection near the library

August 13, 2018

If you’re wondering why there are flowers and big planters in the street near the Winona Public Library, question no longer.

Winona’s assistant city planner, Luke Sims, has the answer.

Sims said the 12 planters that jut out from the sidewalk into the street are meant to act as temporary curb extensions — similar to what was installed near the Levee Park entrance. The curb extensions help to slow down traffic and make it easier for pedestrians to be seen and cross safely by bringing the distance between curbs from 40 feet to 26 feet. The planters are the result of a project funded by the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership through Live Well Winona.

“It thins the lanes down a bit,” he said. “It’s all about visibility, slowing things down, and shortening crossing distances for pedestrians.”

That location was picked, Sims said, because the library has had concerns about people being able to cross the surrounding streets safely — especially with children.

The planters were placed there at the end of July and will be remain there until the end of August.

In the meantime, the city is gathering feedback from residents through a survey by Engage Winona, which can be found at the library’s circulation desk. Sims said the city is looking to see if residents felt if it does slow down traffic, whether it’s helping safety or if it’s caused any negative effects.

So far the feedback the city has received is a mixture of comments on how it looks pretty, Sims said, and also questions of why the planters aren’t bigger if they’re meant to increase visibility.

Sims said the size of the planters were intentional — they’re smaller than most children.

“We’re looking to design things that are 36 inches or shorter,” Sims said, adding that any higher and it might block the view of child standing behind it.

Once the planters are removed at the end of August, the city will gather all its data and do an evaluation of whether it’s something to consider for the long term plan of that area.

“That’s part of that evaluation of whether we should put down some paint to make it more permanent,” Sims said, adding that the development on the Hardee’s block is expected to have curb extension.

Live Well Winona operations manager Deb McClellan said the curb extensions are so important for pedestrian safety and she looks forward to hearing feedback on the project.

“I really hope this (curb extension project) really opens up the discussion, the dialogue,” she said.

Sims is looking forward to that as well.

“I’m just really excited that this project is going forward,” he said.

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