Last night was the first public meeting with folks from RDG as part of the corridor study they're doing. The study involves this corridor, and also Locust and Rockingham. The hope is that these consultants will be able to think of some things we can do to improve these older streets that may be in somewhat of a decline.
The meeting was mostly public input, and it divided the corridor into 3 segments. They were the section from downtown to Locust, Locust to Kimberly, and Kimberly to I-80. There were surprisingly few comments about changing the streets back to two way, and what comments there were seems mostly opposed to such a change. The RDG representative said that they were considering that as part of the study, but it didn't seem like that was a top priority. One of the things that was discussed was possibly narrowing the lanes or taking a lane away for parking, and making the streets 3 lanes instead of 4. This would prevent the feeling, especially on SoLo Harrison, that you're walking only inches away from speeding traffic. It could do this by both widening the sidewalks and slowing the traffic.
One of the biggest things discussed about the SoLo section of this corridor was connecting the 5 schools (Central, Young, Madison, Palmer and Ambrose) in some way to create an education corridor. Tying in the churches along that stretch was also mentioned. There was also some discussion of a cable car or trolley that could make the loop up Brady, through Vander Veer, and back down Harrison. Many people at the meeting seemed to like that idea, which surprised me. I didn't hear anything along the lines of "another waste of money," so I guess those people decided not to attend this meeting.
North of Locust there was a lot of talk about connecting the Duck Creek Parkway with Vander Veer, and then down Main Street to the riverfront recreation trail. This has been a city plan for several years now, and has always seemed like a great idea to me. If the Duck Creek trail connects to the Bettendorf riverfront trail, and also goes from Emeis over to Sunderbruch Park and down to the riverfront trail that way, we could have quite a connected recreational trail system. The RDG rep also mentioned that a number of businesses had complained that traffic really starts to speed up once it gets past Central Park. Many people at the meeting agreed that traffic on Brady and Harrison needs to be slowed down all along the route.
In the final segment from Kimberly to I-80, there were several suggestions. Everyone agreed that something needs to be done with the former hotel/cinema complex at 65th. Alderman Frink explained that the 65th/67th Street connection to Eastern should happen within a year, and that the 65th Street intersection is going to be redone to be more like a normal intersection. I guess that means some left turn lanes and no more "Exit" sign off to the right. It was also mentioned that people driving past on I-80 don't realize that one of Iowa's largest malls is only a couple miles off the interstate, and that maybe some additional signage could draw people in to town for that.
Overall it was a fairly productive meeting, with about 25-30 people in attendance. Both Alderman Frink and Mayor Winborn were there, along with some city staff. It was good to hear how positive people were, and throwing out good ideas and possibilities. There wasn't much negativity about anything, and I really wondered where all of the people who oppose this stuff are during the time decisions are being made. I suspect that if the city spends money, or even uses state money to turn part of this corridor from 4 lanes to 3, suddenly negative people will come out of the woodwork to oppose it. When that happens, I will ask them where they were last night.