Milwaukee County officials and Simon Property Group, the owner of Southridge Mall in Greendale, have reached an agreement to settle a dispute about the bus stop location at the mall, according to a memo from Milwaukee County corporation counsel Paul Bargren to Milwaukee County Board chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic.
Last year the mall informed Milwaukee County Transit System that county buses would no longer be able to stop near the Sears store on the north end of the mall and instead would have to use a stop on the mall’s ring road, which is about 1,000 feet from the nearest mall entrance. The move was met with outrage by some county officials and advocates for the disabled.
“Reaching the mall from that stop requires walking along the edge of a parking lot, crossing a busy parking lot access road and then continuing along a mall road to a sidewalk,” Bargren’s memo says. “The walkway consists of a pedestrian lane painted at the edge of the parking lot surface. Although the walkway and the bus stop comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, this has proven a difficult path for those with handicpas or who have difficulty walking.”
Now, county officials and representatives for Southridge/Simon have reached a deal for a new bus stop plan for the mall, according to Bargren. The general manager for the mall said a deal is "close" with the county on a bus stop agreement.
"We have had ongoing and positive discussions with Milwaukee County officials about our joint effort to find a way to enhance bus service at Southridge,” said Mary Mokwa, general manager of Southridge. “Milwaukee County has demonstrated that it shares our commitment to finding a mutually agreeable plan, and we are confident that we are close to reaching that goal."
Under the agreement that is coming together between the county and Southridge, the current bus stop will be moved west about 200 feet to the corner of the ring road and the parking lot access road, according to Bargren.
“This would eliminate the worst of the walkway issues, including eliminating the need to cross the access road and the temptation to set out diagonally across the parking lot,” Bargren’s memo states. “Work is required to make the corner suitable for a bus stop. The walkway will be improved with the addition of traffic markers for at least a portion of its length. The curb on the west side of the walk will remain in place.”
The agreement also includes the addition of a second bus stop at the south end of the mall, about 350 feet from the building. Southridge will construct a dedicated ADA compliant walkway from this stop to the mall. The walkway will be set off for now with traffic markers and future improvements are planned, Bargren’s memo states.
The new north stop will service the 55 and 14 bus routes. The new south stop will serive the 76 and 64 bus routes.
Southridge will build concrete pads at the bus stops. MCTS will provide shelters at the stops. MCTS will provide an initial contribution of $30,000 for the bus stop improvements and up to $10,000 annually, beginning in 2015, for maintenance costs.
“While it is understood that many would prefer alternate arrangements, Southridge’s status as a private property owner provides it with strong rights to control access,” Bargren said in his memo. “The changes described in the agreement are a definite improvement over the current situation in terms of safety, proximity and service.”