Cities benefit from restoring two-way traffic

Two-way streets prove safer, more walkable, and more supportive of business than one-way streets for Midwestern cities.   ROBERT STEUTEVILLE  JUL. 9, 2019

Two-way streets prove safer, more walkable, and more supportive of business than one-way streets for Midwestern cities.

ROBERT STEUTEVILLE JUL. 9, 2019

Midwestern cities report significant success restoring two-way traffic on one-way streets. New Albany, Indiana, switched more than four miles of city streets while implementing traffic-calming measures made possible by the conversions. Police Chief Wm. Todd Bailey reports that the two-way street designs are “overwhelmingly” superior in the following respects:

  • Accidents involving pedestrians are down.

  • Speeding is reduced. The previous one-way configurations allowed motorists to travel “well above posted speed limits,” Bailey says, whereas the new designs “have slowed traffic as planned.”

  • Motor vehicle crashes are down, especially injury crashes, compared to previous years.

  • In general, the streets work better. “It has been our observation that the new designs allow for motor vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians to all interact in a much smoother manner,” he says. “Additionally, due to the new design, when we experience a problem, we are provided with more options to redirect traffic. The design has also facilitated a better response from police and fire as those options have multiplied.”

Bold Corridor Attracts Investment

Carmel, Indiana, builds a high-quality public realm at the heart of its new Midtown district.   ROBERT STEUTEVILLE

Carmel, Indiana, builds a high-quality public realm at the heart of its new Midtown district.

ROBERT STEUTEVILLE

Carmel, Indiana, a suburb of more than 90,000 people bordering on Indianapolis, is building a walkable urban downtown to fit its growing population and economy. 

Main Street and the Arts and Design District have already been revitalized with restaurants and art galleries. City Center, a half mile to the south, is a world class performing arts complex built by the city. Between the two is a former industrial area where the city is promoting mixed-use development—including new headquarters of corporations that are relocating to the city. 

Work restoring two-way streets in downtown Cedar Rapids nears end

Work begins last week on converting Third Avenue SE near Greene Square from one-way to two-way traffic. It marks the final downtown street to undergo the conversions that began in 2015. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Work begins last week on converting Third Avenue SE near Greene Square from one-way to two-way traffic. It marks the final downtown street to undergo the conversions that began in 2015. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids is nearing the end of its multiyear U-turn away from downtown one-way streets.

Last week, crews tore out sidewalk ramps and bump-outs along Third Avenue SE near Greene Square in the first steps to prepare for two-way traffic — something motorists haven’t seen there in half a century.

While a few two-way projects remain in the city’s planning hopper, Third Avenue SE is the final downtown street to undo the one-way conversions that took place in 1950s Cedar Rapids.

What’s the real cost of new freeways in Houston?

When drivers on Waugh approach the intersection with Allen Parkway, they can turn east toward downtown without having to stop or slow down. It’s called a “slip lane.”

Pedestrians crossing there into Buffalo Bayou Park, though, do have to stop and slow down. When I walk to the park to exercise, I crane over my shoulder and try to guess whether drivers will stay speeding north or turn east through the slip lane, and I wait for my chance at the crosswalk. There’s a yield sign, of course, and there’s also a Texas law that requires drivers to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. But there’s not much yielding going on. So I have to rush to the hunk of concrete in the intersection called a “refuge island,” hide behind the signal pole, say a prayer to the patron saint of vulnerable road users and then hurry across a few more lanes into the park. Who needs cardio after an exercise like that?

Reimagining Kenmore Square

Close your eyes and imagine a new Kenmore Square.

A soaring 28-story glass hotel rises up from a tree-lined plaza at the fork in the road where Beacon Street and Commonwealth Avenue split. The patch where the hotel stands is also an oasis for people who are window shopping or looking for a spot to sip their iced coffee on a breezy spring day. Cars, pedestrians, and cyclists coexist calmly and safely in a new and simplified intersection, and crossing through it no longer feels like an exercise in self-preservation. Kenmore Square is now a scenic gateway, in one direction toward Boston University, in another toward Fenway Park, and in a third toward the beautiful canopy heading downtown along Commonwealth Avenue.

Now open your eyes. That’s the vision for Kenmore Square unveiled Tuesday night by Mark Development CEO Robert Korff, who says he wants to turn one of Boston’s busiest and best-known intersections into a destination that would “put the square back in Kenmore Square.”

Urban Planning for Utopia

West Main Master Plan for downtown Pensacola unveiled

Urban planning expert Jeff Speck and Marina Khoury, a partner at the urban planning firm DPZ, give a presentation Tuesday on the West Main Master Plan at the Studer Community Institute.   (Photo: Jim Little)

Urban planning expert Jeff Speck and Marina Khoury, a partner at the urban planning firm DPZ, give a presentation Tuesday on the West Main Master Plan at the Studer Community Institute. (Photo: Jim Little)

Over the past 15 years, several plans have been drawn up for the Community Maritime Park, but Studer Properties is hoping the West Main Master Plan is the one that can become a reality over the next 15 years.

Urban planning expert Jeff Speck, along with Marina Khoury, a partner at the urban planning firm DPZ, held their "midway" presentation Tuesday evening at the Studer Community Institute building to unveil concepts their team is working on to develop the West Main Master Plan.

Studer Properties hired the urban planners after it signed an 18-month lease option with the city of Pensacola to come up with a master plan for the seven undeveloped properties at Community Maritime Park and the former Emerald Coast Utilities Authority downtown sewage treatment facility that is owned by Pensacola businessman Quint Studer.