Friday, February 01, 2008

Just Say No to Two Way Streets

The JG penned an editorial yesterday supporting the mayor's request for converting Berry and Wayne into two way streets. The JG goes even further by suggesting the city council should try and restart the work to make Calhoun a two way street.
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...

9 comments:

de_tokeville said...

What really blows about the proposed Calhoun makeover is that it's one of the few streets downtown that has any atmosphere. It has taken two decades for those trees to mature. Now we're going to rip them out for the sake of improving traffic flow in a place that really doesn't have much traffic and still won't once the changes have been implemented.

The place will be a mudhole for a year or however long it takes for the city to do its thing. The small restaurants and businesses that city leaders say are so vital to downtown are likely to suffer. They have small profit margins. It's very easy for them to go under if there's a big downturn in business thanks to the streets and sidewalks being unusable.

This is one of those projects that's expensive, unnecessary and quite likely to do more harm than good. C'mon, tree huggers. Let's rally to save downtown.

Jeff Pruitt said...

Exactly.

We should be doing more to make the downtown pedestrian experience more like the one on Calhoun and not vice-versa...

Fr. Fozy Bear said...

I remember when I was a younging (I can actually say that now geezers Im getting old) that the only traffic allowed on that stretch of Calhoun to begin with was bus traffic because it was the terminal stop for PTC no vehicle traffic was allowed and I even remember when I was real little how the police went down to Harrisson and up a block or so and back over to Calhoun off of Main because even they wouldnt dare cross that section even with lights and sirens blaring at two miles per hour. We need to glass canopy that section and turn it into a pedestrian mall before we even consider turning Wayne and Berry into two way streets.

BTW 2.4 million seems like an awfully steep price tag to convert Wayne and Berry to two ways. I would love to see the itemization of that figure. If we are going to have to dig up the roads in order to undertake such a project we might as well geothermally heat the road so it doesnt have to get plowed or salted (what causes most of the damage anyway) for the next twenty-thirty years and then I could see it being an investment and go green improvement to the city as a whole.

John B. Kalb said...

But, guys, this is the new Fort Wayne! How do you expect our high-priced mayor to make a name for himself? He has to produce - i.e. 1) change anything, the easy things 1st (like uprooting trees - or tearing down a perfectly usable, paid for, baseball stadium); 2) seeing to it that some local contractors get high paying jobs so their employees can make a mandated job rate that is 40% above the going rate; 3) making downtown more difficult to traverse, by car or on foot; 4) seeing that our famous Redevelopment Department has some work to do so they can justify their jobs; et at, et al. Welcome to 6 Sigma Paradise where every private concern can go "belly-up" with all the help of our city government!!! John B. Kalb

bobett said...

de_tokeville,

I enjoy reading your well-spoken commentary to various subjects on this blog.

Jeff,

Outstanding reporting! Your hard work is appreciated.

Thanks kindly for allowing guests
to voice their thoughts on this blog.

Phil Marx said...

When this was brought up in 2006, many people suggested changing to two-way streets would actually restrict traffic flow. One councilmeber acknowledged this and said he still thought it was a good idea.

He seemed to think that if there was traffic gridlock, then people would park and walk around. Personally, if I find an area of town that suffers from poor traffic design, that's just a reason for me to try to avoid it altogether.

And you are correct, that area of Calhoun is the best thing in downtown. It should be a model for future development. If the city tears it up, they definitely have their heads up their asses.

There's a pizza/sandwich shop on the W. side of Calhou that has good food. I don't know the name, but the address is 826. If you go there, check out their upstairs lounge. Big screen TV, couches, very nice. Good for lunch or early dinner, but they close at 8:26 in the evening.

Jeff Pruitt said...

pint & slice and yes it's a cool place

Scott B. said...

Why are the people of Fort Wayne always worried about traffic? I have never been in a tie-up downtown, unless there was an accident. We should be taking lanes away from some streets and widening sidewalks, not the other way around. That one block of Calhoun is the best block in downtown, followed closely by Columbia. When will the politicians get it through their heads that Calhoun is the ideal?

And by the way, the pizza place's number is 816. Hence the name, 816 Pint and Slice. It is a wonderful place.

fairplaybeach said...

Yeah, Calhoun is a cool street right there as is...