During Mayor Tom Henry’s neighborhood investment plan announcement, the call for additional road going on a diet including Oxford, Hessen Castle and others were a major part of the 20 Million dollar package for 2015. Earlier this week, we discussed how several cities are looking at declaring an end to one way streets as millennials continue to be focused on urban centers rather than vast suburban outreaches. This news is shocking to many as the previous generations looked at how widening roadways would create efficient travel opportunities to outlying destinations, essentially leaving the center of the city. In the 1950’s and until as recent as ten years ago, cities would spend millions each year on right of way and infrastructure widening projects. The concept of now going back into communities and putting these once wide travel paths on a diet are getting mixed reviews. Some leaders are concerned with the potential public outcry, yet many communities are now seeing the positive impact of complete streets and smaller, safer thoroughfares.
Another city recently made a huge step to reverse wide multi-lane roadways and enhance the neighborhood feel. Akron Ohio announced that a safety upgrade is planned for both Cedar and Exchange streets along a stretch between Portage Path and Broadway. City engineering officials are concerned that with so many lanes of one way traffic, the safety of people traveling continues to diminish as people are having weaving accidents, turning from incorrect lanes. Both Cedar and Exchange run near the urban center of the city and people often get confused with which lane to be in at specific intersections, which also increases the likelihood of pedestrian vs. vehicle accidents. City officials noted that in a three-year span, there were nearly 600 crashes, more than half of which were “categorized as sideswipe-passing.” The city is planning to spend $8.5 million dollars to “right-size” the number of lanes from five to two, adding bike lanes and street parking. It will also include upgrades to 21 intersections with new LED traffic control signals that will be interconnected through the area which will allow traffic to flow more efficiently.
It will be exciting to see additional upcoming street dieting and complete street projects in our cities. This is not just a trend but a new way our cities are being designed and built. The thought of several large open lanes in one direction to funnel residents and businesses out of the center to stronger and more vibrant downtowns and neighborhoods are the new normal. Fort Wayne is currently conducting a safer thoroughfare approach near downtown on Ewing, Main, Jefferson and Fairfield Streets.