Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Wait a Minute...

On Monday an item about slowing down city traffic (and my comment about the exposed manhole covers already doing the job) elicited plenty of responses from readers fed up with trying to avoid the street mines downtown. Now Leo Morris writes an editorial in the evening's N-S on that very subject.
As you're dodging those exposed manhole covers on Clinton and Lafayette streets, think about what this little adventure means for the future of downtown. As we have been forcefully reminded by the manholes - why are they exposed, when will they be fixed, why is this taking so long? - those streets are also part of U.S. 27, a major state highway.

So any downtown plans involving Clinton and Lafayette need state approval. Now, while the downtown blueprint is still being shaped, is the time to start preparing to get that approval.

You don't have to talk to city officials very long to realize that those two streets figure very heavily in ideas for downtown's future.

When planners talk about "traffic calming," they mean, among other things, slowing people down so they can appreciate the city landscape rather than zipping right through it. And they mean, most of all, traffic on four streets: Clinton, Lafayette, Jefferson and Washington.

"We hear the need for that from everybody we talk to," says Mark Becker of the city's Community Development Department. "We heard it from Gianni Longo (the architect and planner hired by the city to guide downtown discussions). We hear it from the people in Greenville (in South Carolina, whose award-winning downtown revitalization will be viewed by a Fort Wayne delegation later in the week)." The calming could be achieved a number of ways, Becker says, everything from speed bumps to taking out an exterior lane to widening sidewalks.
I'm not saying this is a bad idea -- after all, anyone who's serious about downtown revitalization knows the current traffic grid needs to be overhauled -- but doesn't it make more sense to focus on giving people driving through downtown a reason to actually STOP instead of just slowing them down in the hopes that they'll see something they like?

Just a thought...

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