October 29, 2013

Two-way proposal at a standstill

Logan's Landing board member says further study possible.

by Mitchell Kirk Pharos-Tribune

---- — A proposal to turn East Market Street and East Broadway into two-way streets that received mixed reactions after being introduced to the public this spring has been put on hold for the time being, a board member of a downtown organization exploring the initiative says.

The initiative was outlined in a comprehensive plan drafted by the city in 2009, but wasn’t explored more completely until funding opportunities became available upon the completion of the new Ind. 25 Hoosier Heartland highway.

The new highway prompts the relinquishment of several currently state-owned roads running through Logansport to the city and with them an allocation of about $3.5 million. The funds could be used to provide the city’s contribution toward a match grant to fund turning two of the city’s main thoroughfares into two-way streets, which is estimated to cost about $9.6 million.

Proponents say the switch will reduce confusion for out-of-town visitors, improve mobility and aesthetics, encourage more downtown trips, increase traffic flow, increase access to businesses and provide a more modest pace for traffic.

An April public meeting on the matter brought out about 40 people, many of whom feared the change would lead to accidents. Some expressed skepticism toward the plausibility of making lanes wider for turning and said it would be better to turn Fourth and Fifth streets into two-ways instead.

Logan’s Landing, an organization representing the city’s downtown district, has been exploring the initiative by interacting with downtown merchants.

Pam Leeman, a board member of Logan’s Landing, said most of the feedback she has received from retail business owners regarding the switch has been positive, while responses from owners of non-retail businesses and residents have been mixed.

Leeman said the proposal is in a holding pattern for the time being.

“It’s kind of just been put on the shelf and hasn’t been taken off and dusted off yet,” she said.

Many retail business owners are in favor of the switch, Leeman said, as the slower traffic created by an eastbound lane would draw more eyes and create more appeal.

Creating appeal isn’t as much of an issue for non-retail businesses, she continued, because their more specific goods and services draw customers looking to get in and out as quickly as possible.

“That’s kind of where the dividing line is,” Leeman said.

Nikki Reid, owner of The Nest, a gift shop on Broadway, has mixed feelings about the initiative.

“I guess I would lean more toward the fact that people don’t do well with change,” she said. “I’m inclined to think they’re so used to it now, I’m not sure it would improve things.”

However, when customers from out of town come into The Nest and ask for restaurant recommendations, Reid said she has to give them directions filled with reminders about one-way streets that often fall on confused faces.

“That’s the side of me that says make it a two-way,” she said.

Leeman said it’s possible that the proposal could be picked back up again in the near future for further study, but that she didn’t know for sure.

“I know communities that have done it are benefiting from it,” Leeman said. “We need to be a community that realizes change is not always pleasant, but it’s always beneficial.”

Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or Follow him: @PharosMAK