Or are we too hopelessly stupid to succeed?
While it’s true that our local newspapers have been filled to the rim with misty-eyed Christmas bilge during the past week, it remains that a few articles of genuine substance have somehow crept through the de facto blockade against reality-based programming.
Among the best was “Traffic patterns on the move in Southern Indiana,” last week’s Tribune offering by John L. Gilkey (News-Tribune), in which the writer briefly but comprehensively surveyed road and traffic issues in Clarksville, Jeffersonville and New Albany:
New Albany Mayor James Garner said he is considering a conversion of the city’s one-way street system back to two-way traffic, but he said the cost will be high.“The one-way system needs to be two-way based on current traffic patterns, but the cost of doing so is high — about $1 million,” Garner said.
The city has been analyzing its traffic patterns for some time, and believes the change will improve traffic flow, he said. But to do so will require extensive changes to traffic signals, restriping of roadways and, in some cases, resurfacing. Also, crosswalks will need to be added at certain locations.
Mayor Garner also discussed the future of Daisy Lane, and work needed on the city’s exurb arteries, i.e., Charlestown and Grant Line Roads and State Street.
From the desired perspective of boosting New Albany’s future prospects by improving the city’s quality of life in those residential districts adjacent to downtown, by linking this to commercial development in the historic business district, and in recognizing that traffic problems like speeding and recklessness commonly are viewed as roadway design issues and not law enforcement issues, this much debated restoration of the city’s street grid certainly must be a centerpiece of future redevelopment strategies.
Urban planners of a previous generation (show trials, anyone?) manipulated the street grid as a means of moving people quickly from one side to the other, implicitly (or otherwise) acknowledging that there would be little interest in stopping in between.
It was shortsighted then, and it’s plainly mistaken now, but the point is that as real world conditions change, so must the premises with which we treat them, and what we need now is a slower pace downtown, with opportunities for walking and bicycling, and not just because of the aesthetic advantages – because the overall economic well-being of the community stands to be enhanced in such a manner.
Model after model indicates that in all facets of life, downtown must be transformed into the overtly stated antithesis of the plastic, big-box exurb, and what is more perfectly representative of the soulless exurb than its cruelly necessary traffic patterns?
Appropriately, Gilkey considers the evolving Clarksville retail exurb, and provides us with one of the greatest examples of mover-and-shaker disingenuousness that you’re likely to view in print:
Clarksville Redevelopment Director Rick Dickman said the town is seeing extensive changes in traffic patterns because of its Veterans Parkway Corridor development.
The corridor was designed based on the town’s original development plan for the area, which included specialty retail and office buildings along with a hotel and conference center.
“The roadway wasn’t designed to accommodate big-box retail from one end to the other, but that’s what we have,” Dickman said.
Dickman must be kidding.
“That’s what we have,” he purrs, as though "big-box" burst from a tiny seed and grew overnight like a flower in time-lapse photography … as though the town were utterly powerless to prevent the construction crews and big box retailers from radically altering its original plan for the area and thus rendering the roadway obsolete before it was completed ... as though the abrupt surrender of the planners owed to anything other than greed.
Did Wal-Mart hold a pistol to your head, Rick? Did the Gary McCartin’s of the world kidnap your family and hold it hostage until you approved their plans? Did they bring the bricks and mortar into the town limits by backpack and build at night, when they couldn’t be seen?
That Rick Dickman and his brethren chose to alter virtually everything about their original plan so as to maximize the financial return of the development for Clarksville is perfectly understandable, if not entirely consistent with their original stated aims – but please, just don’t insult the community by expressing mock shock and dazzled surprise that it happened the way it did.
Wait -- we’re not trusting Dickman with the Greenway, are we?
Can he squeeze a tacky McCartin retail development (Coffey Commons?) alongside the Loop Island Wetlands (on the Clarskville side, preferably) -- perhaps with Mike Sodrel's federally-mandated help?
But I digress (shrug).
NA Confidential’s question for today is this: We know the reasons for restoring the two-way street grid in New Albany, but what is the case against?
Down trogs, down; we know there currently isn't a cool million buried in one of Steve Price's backyard "nickel 'n' dime" deposit boxes to finance such a project, but are there compelling reasons against finding the money?