On Wednesday, the City Council will host a workshop on downtown traffic flow. At issue will be whether or not to revert all of the streets downtown - including the 500 block of Main Street - back to two-way traffic. While the other streets are not really at issue, it is the 500 block that holds the key to the controversy.
Merchants there believe that the 1999 "experiment" to convert their block to one-way traffic and create outdoor dining extensions, called "pockets," has helped create a robust customer base for the restaurants and other businesses on that block. As a result of the success of outdoor dining, the city has agreed to purchase a number of wooden platforms for all the other restaurants downtown.
But now, the issue of traffic flow has surfaced as the latest controversy. City staff is recommending that all the downtown streets be converted to two-way traffic, for reasons including traffic safety and the ability for restaurants to install their outdoor dining platforms in front of their businesses, where parallel parking spaces would otherwise be.
There are proponents - including Dick Duncan, who designed the 500 block pocket project - who believe that making Main Street one way would create a better ambience for businesses, including restaurants, based on the success of the 500 block. Duncan is proposing making one-way traffic eastbound from Alhambra Ave. to Ferry St., and one-way west from Court St. to Ferry St. Parking would be diagonal on one side of the street, leaving the other side yellow for loading.
There are still others who believe that Main St. should be turned into a pedestrian-only thoroughfare, and ban all vehicular traffic.
The traffic flow workshop will take place at City Hall on Wednesday at 5 p.m. The issue will be discussed by the council at its regular meeting, which begins Wednesday at 7 p.m. Both meetings will take place in the City Hall Council Chambers, 525 Henrietta St.
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