Counterpoint: Two-way Main Street has created a downtown dilemma

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Have you been to Downtown Cape lately? If you have, you've probably noticed all of the changes that have happened recently. I am pleased to see that our city leaders have begun to show an interest in this beautiful historic area. Historic Downtown Cape is charming and unique. It is made up of an eclectic mixture of commerce that serves a diverse group of people.

The main motivation behind all of the recent changes is to increase traffic flow. While changing the direction of the streets has increased traffic flow, it has made a problem that already plagues the downtown area even worse. Most people would agree that the number one inconvenience and hindrance in downtown shopping is the parking nuisance. Since the recent change in the direction of the streets, the already bad parking problem has become a nightmare.

When Water Street was changed from a two-way street to a one-way street, parallel parking on both sides of the street had to be reduced to angle parking on one side of the street. After Water Street was changed, Main Street then had to be changed from a one way-street to a two-way street. That caused the loss of several valuable parking spaces.

In order to accommodate large trucks delivering goods to businesses loading zones had to be implemented to avoid traffic jams. These loading zones take up even more of our vital parking.

There is a total of five loading zones, two of which are right on Main Street, and while these loading zones are taking up valuable parking spaces, they are not alleviating the traffic jam. Many times during the day, trucks are unloading in a loading zone and another truck is waiting in the street. Since there is now two-way traffic on Main Street, you can't just drive around the trucks like you were once able to do.

While the trucks on Main Street are utilizing the loading zones, the trucks delivering to the businesses on Water Street don't even bother to use them. They just park in the middle of the street. Since Water Street now has only one lane, you can't get around them. Sometimes they can even be there for more than an hour blocking traffic.

When you finally get through the maze of trucks and traffic and think you may be able to park, it is nearly impossible to find a parking spot. The loss of parking due to the street changes is a travesty, but on the street in two hour parking slots, you may find Dumpsters parked by construction companies for days at a time. Combine this with the sale of the merchant's parking lot on the comer of Broadway and Main Street, the change in the direction of the street and extra loss of parking has caused havoc.

If you think this sounds confusing on paper, imagine trying to navigate through it in a vehicle when you are in a hurry. Let's face it, most of us are in a hurry all of the time. In a generation when convenience is the number one priority of consumers, we are killing our downtown businesses.

Improvements made need to be focused on making the downtown area more convenient for the customers and pedestrians, not traffic.

Historic Downtown Cape is on the edge of a new horizon. It is becoming an even busier and more exciting place. Unfortunately, as more people are driving downtown, they just keep driving because there is no place for them to stop and park.

Crissy Ellinghouse-Batchelor is owner of Kids Wear ... Again on Main Street in Cape Girardeau.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: