There are two ways to view Findlay’s Main Street traffic plan, which was unveiled this week.
If you already think of downtown as a destination, a place to go to eat, shop, or to socialize and drink a beer, you’re probably going to like the new look.
But if you use Main Street as a pass-through, the quickest way to get from point A to point B, you may not like it.
While officials say much still needs to be done before the plan moves forward, we believe it deserves the public’s scrutiny.
The plan would reduce Main Street from four lanes to two in some areas to create more parking spaces, and make curb modifications and mid-block pedestrian crossings.
Landscaping, both in medians, and curbside, would make Main Street, specifically between Front Street and Lima Street, more attractive.
While the Marathon Petroleum Corp. expansion is helping drive the traffic plan now, the plan was spurred by studies which showed a high number of accidents at two downtown intersections.
Talk of giving downtown a needed facelift, however, isn’t exactly new. “Streetscape” discussions that went on a decade or so ago included some of the same concepts being suggested.
New ideas, like reverse-angled parking, while foreign to motorists more accustomed to parallel parking, has become common in cities elsewhere. Findlay police have been backing into some parking spots on Cory Street since the Municipal Building was constructed.
It may be just the right time to enhance downtown. Marathon announced earlier this month it would be building two office buildings and two parking garages near its headquarters, and the Central auditorium renovation is scheduled to begin this spring. The traffic plan would tie those projects together nicely.
But reducing the number of traffic lanes will require planners to develop alternative lanes nearby.
Service-Safety Director Paul Schmelzer said studies suggest about 20 percent of traffic volume would need to be diverted from Main Street in order to keep traffic flowing smoothly there. Schmelzer and other officials believe that can be accomplished by making upgrades to Blanchard Street to the east and Western Avenue to the west.
Alternative routes for police, fire and EMS will also need to be established, but it’s important to remember the plan calls for changes only in a six-block area, not the entire length of Main Street.
The public should study the plan as more details become available, and attend meetings March 12 at the Findlay Inn and Conference Center. Ultimately, any plan would have to be approved by Findlay City Council.
Marathon and many other businesses have made a substantial commitment by choosing to stay in Findlay’s downtown and keep jobs there, but taxpayers have a vested interest in Main Street, too.
Giving the traffic plan full and fair consideration should be the community’s part of the deal. Making downtown vibrant and a desired destination should be everyone’s goal.
- The Docket
- Member Service