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Group Proposes Changes To Charleston Traffic Patterns

Reported by: Send eMail Stefano DiPietrantonio
Reported: Jul. 9, 2014 11:35 PM EDT
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Imagine Charleston
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Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia

Imagine Charleston unveiled its proposed plans Wednesday evening, which include changing some of the city’s one-way streets back to two-way traffic. City planners believe these changes will be better for businesses.

Streets like Virginia, Randolph and Patrick Streets, which have historically been one-way, could be converted to two-way traffic. And if it forces people to slow-down and linger just a little bit longer, city planning leaders said that's a win for businesses.

Imagine Charleston wants you to take time to enjoy the views as you drive downtown, re-creating a city that is livable.

"So we want people coming downtown, living downtown, playing downtown, and the way to do that, is to slow them down, just a little bit, slow down and enjoy it," Geoff Plagemann, with the City Planning Department, said.

Imagine Charleston, which was adopted last fall, met with some City Council members to go over some proposed traffic changes. The group said converting certain one-way streets into two-way thoroughfares would support West Side revitalization.

"It slows down the traffic, it lets them see the businesses and it opens the street up to pedestrians, bikers and walkers,” Plagemann said.

Plagemann said a little bit of congestion is not necessarily a bad thing.

“You want congestion,” he said. “Businesses want congestion!"

Plagemann said every neighborhood in Charleston would benefit from the two-way traffic, bike lanes, wider sidewalks, trees and plantings.

From Planning to the Police Department, all groups are looking at the Transit Mall and how to make that a safer part of downtown.

"You have a lot of nuisance crimes, is what we kind of classify them as, intoxicated people and panhandlers, part of downtown's transient population," Sgt. Randy Sampson, with the Charleston Police Department, said.

But improvements have already been made.

"There's a lot of lighting there, there's an excellent camera surveillance system," Sampson said. "It's been updated, it's very clear, not real grainy and hard to see like the older equipment used to be and we actually have access to it from a remote location if we need to."

"That's in the heart of downtown,” Plagemann said. “So obviously, there has to be improvements and we can do better!"

The proposed traffic changes will be a challenge for law enforcement, as people get used to the new patterns, keep in mind these are just ideas. But they are ones the City Planning Department and Imagine Charleston believe are all attainable and essential as the City moves forward.



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