Executive Director Lisa Clemmons Stott gave these remarks to the Springfield City Council this week.
The use of Central Area TIF funds to study whether one-way to two-way street conversion makes cents – as in cash registers ringing – is a prioritized use of TIF that aligns with DSI’s goals to increase foot traffic in the downtown district.
The Sustainable Design Assessment Team (SDAT) urban planners told us to reconsider our one-way grid back in 2012 when they encouraged us to stay focused on building a residential downtown. This is an interesting factoid they shared: “Customers who arrive by bicycle or foot spend less per retail visit, but make more frequent visits overall, which means that they spend more on an annual basis.” The kicker: “As many cities have discovered, the retail districts with the slowest speeds and highest congestion are often the most successful.”
We are not the first city to study one-way conversion and this is not a fly-by-night strategy. Cities around the country have reverted to their original two-way streets to increase economic impact in their downtowns.
Louisville KY’s conversion happened long enough ago (2011) that planning scholars have been able to assess the economic impact with hard data:
- Fewer collisions, less crime and higher property values
- Traffic safety in the area improved even though the traffic volume increased
- People were willing to exchange the slower speeds for more direct access to their destination
- Crime rate actually decreased on two problem streets because more “eyeballs” on the street
In Lubbock, Texas, 86% of local business were in favor of more conversion after seeing the results of the first few completed streets because they credited it as one part of helping them experience growth after years of decline.
Other cities converting back to two-way streets:
- Des Moines, Iowa
- Minneapolis, MN
- Denver, CO- Dallas, TX
- Kansas City, MO
- South Bend Ind – who claim it as the single best investment that a city can make.
This is potentially one part of a larger downtown transportation solution that is needed–including signage analysis and wayfinding installation – and a parking app–and that is why conversion’s effect on parking is also a very important aspect of this study.
The process of neighborhood improvement is a very complex one with lots of variables. The downtown business community recommends a Yes vote to fund the initial conversion study.
Outcome as reported by SJR’s Mary Hansen: Council gives initial OK to funding for two-way traffic study