Downtown traffic

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Changing traffic patterns on any city's streets is not a matter to be taken lightly. There are plenty of motorists who remember the one-way traffic patterns on Broadway and Independence Street in Cape Girardeau several years ago that created such a furor that both streets were returned to two-way traffic.

With downtown Cape Girardeau enjoying a 21st century revival, traffic patterns are once again a topic for consideration. In particular, the streets in the heart of the city's oldest riverfront shopping area are in the spotlight.

Water Street, which parallels the Mississippi River floodwall, is rapidly becoming a favorite thoroughfare for visitors to the new floodwall murals, which are sure to draw even more sightseers as they are completed this fall.

The murals are to be enhanced with an interpretive sidewalk, which will be wider than the existing walkway alongside the railroad tracks and will include descriptive signs that tell about each of the historical murals.

With those improvements in mind, there is a sense that Water Street traffic should become one way from north to south in keeping with the chronological order of the murals.

Making Water Street one way leads to further consideration of the current one-way (north to south) traffic on Main Street between Broadway and William Street. And there also is the matter of the clock in the middle of the Main Street-Themis Street intersection, which for years has slowed traffic in an area heavily used by pedestrians. One proposal is to move the clock to the foot of the steps between Spanish Street and the Common Pleas Courthouse.

The current plan that seems to have the most support is to return Main Street to two-way traffic. The street has been one way since 1956, but it handled two-way traffic for 150 years before that.

Two-way traffic on Main Street also would address traffic entering the riverfront area from William Street on the south.

Most everyone agrees that any changes should be unified, which means no revisions are likely until next spring. That leaves plenty of time for further discussions about what will work best -- perhaps for the next 50 years or more.

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