A public informational meeting will be Thursday, December 15, 2016, from 5 until 7 p.m. in the lobby of the Julian Carroll Convention Center located at 415 Park Avenue. The meeting will have an open house format for citizens to ask questions and learn more about the proposed Broadway/Jefferson Street Conversion and Buffered Bike Lane Project. Interested citizens are encouraged to attend at any time during those hours.
The meeting is an opportunity to share information about the proposed conversion of Broadway and Jefferson Streets to two-way, the study of the signalized intersections on Broadway and Jefferson Street, and the addition of bike lanes on sections of Broadway and Jefferson Street.
City of Paducah staff and representatives from HDR Engineering, Inc. will be available to provide information on the project, answer questions, and receive comments. Maps of the proposed project area will be on display. There will be no formal presentation as the engineering project is in its infancy. Comment cards will be provided for attendees.
City Manager Jeff Pederson says, “Elements of this project have been discussed for several years including recommendations in the Renaissance Area Master Plan (RAMP) from 2012 and by Jeff Speck when he visited Paducah in 2014. The information gathered in this engineering contract including the completed striping plan, the engineering study, and the projected costs will be used by the Paducah Board of Commissioners to make future decisions.”
Planning Director Steve Ervin says, “This meeting is an opportunity for the public to learn about the project and to share comments, questions, and suggestions with us. Everyone is encouraged to review the maps and graphics and talk with people working on the project.”
On September 6, 2016, the Paducah Board of Commissioners approved a $63,000 contract for professional services with HDR Engineering, Inc. to prepare a signing and marking plan in addition to the preparation of a signal and warrant study for all intersections. The project will address vehicle connectivity to the downtown core as well as bicycle connectivity from downtown Paducah to Noble Park. Specifically, the HDR contract includes
For those unable to attend the public informational meeting, comments can be submitted by email to Sheryl Chino at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 270-444-8690.
HDR also will assist the City in the preparation of a Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) grant. In 2015, the City applied for a TAP grant for this project; however, it was not successful due to a lack of study information to provide to the granting authorities. The goal is that with the HDR information, the grant will have a higher success rate for funding.
In 1953, Paducah, in response to the influx of downtown traffic related to opening of the Atomic Energy Facility, converted Broadway and Jefferson from two-way streets to one-way. In the 1960’s and 70’s, the primary traffic issue for downtowns nationally was how to reduce congestion and make traffic move faster, according to Main Street America. Therefore, many cities began implementing one-way streets, just as Paducah did. As businesses began leaving downtown areas, the need to eliminate congestion was no longer necessary. With the resurgence of downtown districts came the need to slow traffic down and be more pedestrian friendly causing cities to shift their thinking about one-way streets. Two-way streets are more pedestrian and customer friendly; as well as, improve retails sales by boosting visibility and accessibility. One-way streets do not allow motorists to travel directly to every destination. Paducah hopes to improve the economic well-being of downtown, reduce vacant floor space, and better serve pedestrian traffic. In recent years, cities across America are converting back to two-way streets in their downtown core. Some of those cities include Cincinnati, OH, Louisville, KY, South Bend, IN, Lexington KY, and Cape Girardeau, MO.
Jeff Speck, city planner and urban designer (author of Walkable City, How Downtown Can Save America One Step at A Time), visited Paducah in 2014, Speck made numerous recommendations to enhance revitalization of downtown Paducah. In particular, Speck recommended exploring the installation of buffered bike lanes, conversion of Broadway and Jefferson back to two-way, and evaluate the need for unwarranted traffic signals. Speck summarized that one-way streets have a history of damaging downtown retails districts and intimidate out-of-town drivers. One-ways also frustrate locals who become annoyed by all the circular motions and traffic lights they must pass through to reach their destination. Bikes help slow cars down and make streets safer for drivers, cyclist, and pedestrians. The buffered bike lanes will create a loop for cyclists by connecting downtown Paducah to the Greenway Trail; as well as, a future bike lane connection via 28th Street through Noble Park. Several of Speck’s recommendations correlate with the recommendations of the Neighborhood Revitalization Committee which was recreated in response to the National Citizen Survey conducted by Paducah in 2013.
According to the Renaissance Area Master Plan (RAMP) conducted in 2011 by CityVision Associates, Paducah’s one-way streets present safety concerns for pedestrians because of higher speeds and compromised sight lines of oncoming traffic. An active pedestrian environment is a critical component for supporting retail and tourism activity. In addition, one-way streets are confusing and limit access to downtown attractions. The RAMP recommends converting Broadway and Jefferson Street back to two-way.