Those are some of the questions city officials are discussing as they re-examine traffic patterns on both Main and Front streets downtown.
City councilors voted
Stubbert is adamant that two-way traffic on Main and Front streets downtown is necessary to make the area safe and more attractive to shoppers, diners and others.
"You can see that every day," Stubbert said. "It's like a racetrack down there."
Years ago, the downtown had a two-way traffic system, but it was reconfigured to become one-way as part of an urban renewal project in the late 1960s, according to Stubbert.
While city officials do not know what it would cost to convert to two-way traffic, a study could include an estimate for that work, he said.
"It's still in the planning stages as to what the study is going to do, but we're planning on getting it done this year so we can apply for a federal grant in fiscal year 2015," he said.
"I think that the current configuration of traffic is a problem for
But, she said, any decision about making traffic two-way downtown should include community input.
"It's really the community of
When the Hathaway Creative Center was developed in the former
Like Olsen, Boghossian believes that in order for a downtown to be vibrant, people must live there, and pedestrian access is critical to a downtown's success. Boghossian said Thursday that he agrees with Stubbert that two-way traffic would benefit downtown.
"He's absolutely right," Boghossian said. "I'm no urban expert, but I am an amateur urban guy. There are very few downtowns where one-way traffic works on
Boghossian owns three former mill buildings, including the former Hathaway shirt building, on
"I will say that it is critical that we make downtown more pedestrian friendly, as it is not, and that we need to do more on the aesthetics of downtown," Boghossian said. "It doesn't look as good as it could, and there are people working on it, so I'm encouraged."
Boghossian said he does not have a personal stake in changing
"But I do really want to see downtown prosper," he said. "Personally, as far as Hathaway is concerned, it doesn't make a difference to me, but I do think it makes a big difference to
A study done in 2009 on the intersection south of downtown listed options for improvements that included digging a tunnel, building a bridge and making street-level changes, according to Stubbert and Olsen. At the time, the city deemed the options too costly, and improvements were never made.
But councilors last week decided to apply for the
"I think that any time Councilor Stubbert and I agree on an issue, it's worth exploring," she quipped. "I think that there are a lot of reasons to explore that."
While there are challenges associated with changing to two-way traffic, the issue should be studied, according to Heck. She said that if a two-way traffic system is determined not to be feasible, then there should be only one, one-way traffic lane downtown instead of the current two, because the downtown is very difficult to navigate the way it is configured now.
"I would love to see two-way traffic," she said. "Two-way traffic, I think, would be good for business. Slowing down traffic on
Making traffic two-way downtown has been talked about for a long time, Heck noted.
"While change is difficult for many people, it doesn't mean it's not worth exploring and looking at," she said.
"I'd like to see whatever is best for the downtown, and I'm not willing at this point to say, 'Absolutely, I recommend it,'" he said.
Stubbert recalled that when Gov.
"The analysis showed that we'd made a big mistake by going one-way," Stubbert said.
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