Mayor Tom Henry is right to ask the City Council to reconsider converting several downtown streets to allow two-way traffic. Examining ways to improve downtown traffic patterns is prudent given the flourishing development downtown.
Henry wants the council to revisit converting Wayne Street to two-way traffic between Van Buren and Clay streets, as well as Berry Street from Clay Street to Broadway.
The priority for city leaders, however, should be converting the one-way section of Calhoun Street. Council members last year approved making Calhoun a two-way street between Washington Boulevard and Berry Street, but that plan was ditched because the cost of converting it proved to be higher than expected. The project was expected to cost $2.4 million, but the lowest bid for the project was 3 percent higher than the estimate.
Calhoun is the most pedestrian friendly street in all of downtown - especially between Berry & Wayne. The city, and the JG, wants to screw that up by widening it which would certainly cause some of the trees to go away and also put parking along one side of the street. And why? Because their other decisions to build buildings across major streets have screwed up things so badly they don't think they have a choice. Notice a pattern here?
As for making Berry and Wayne two way streets - where will the money come from? We're facing a $10 Million shortfall due to HB1001 and this type of project is certainly not necessary - something councilman Smith has rightly pointed out. Evidently the JG isn't concerned about that:
In 2006, the council defeated a request to convert Berry and Wayne streets downtown from one-way to two-way in a vote that split according to party affiliation. Republicans were looking at the costs then. Since then, the Harrison Square development has begun, creating a need to re-examine downtown traffic patterns, and four council members have been replaced.
The part they left out is that cost control is even more important now than it was then. In fact it's going to be quite interesting to watch the administration go before council and request money for a "nice-to-have" project right after the controller was saying we needed to raise taxes to help offset the looming budget shortfalls...