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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Pedestrian-only Courthouse Square?

Greg Hathorn, of Sam and Greg's Pizza, talked to WHNT about an idea he had for the Courthouse Square downtown-- close parts of the square to cars and create a "city market." While creating a mini-Pike Place Market might work, shutting down a part of the relatively busy square might be tough. The east and west sides of the square (Washington/Franklin and Jefferson/Madison streets, respectively) are the main routes in and out of downtown, and Southside is used to connect the two, so closing down any of those to vehicular traffic would be impossible unless the city wants to create gridlock and confusion. The northside of the square is less traveled than the other three, so that would be the only feasible location for a public market. Also, it just so happens to be where Sam and Greg's is located, so I'm sure they'll want to be part of their own project.

UPDATE 4/09: A website has now been launched--http://www.marketplaceonthesquare.com/


pizzaguy said...

James. Thanks much for your interest. This is Greg. No doubt that what I am proposing will require further study. I'm just glad to have the opportunity to present a new idea and have such immediate feedback. As I sit outside my shop, I watch the sam cars go round and round the square, just waiting for one parking space to open up. I ask myself, where are these people from? Do they know that several parking garages are available to them just a half a block away? At any rate, my idea does retain the major arteries (Jefferson and Washington)to and from the nterstate intact. I'm proposing that the north and south sides could be put to better use. If closed to traffic, it would certainly end the circular traffic pattern/congestion that exists on the square. But it is true, with these lanes closed, some traffic would have to be re-routed. For example, cars approaching from Randolf Street would have to turn right when the reach the square. I feel this is fine, as Randolf is basically a residential street, and turning right would actually assist the motorist in finding the Clinton Street Parking Deck. Also, I can tell you that when the traffic light is green, motorists from Randolf often come through the intersection and down the North Side street at speeds of 40 miles an hour or more. It is frightening to see this, because I know how many pedestrians are in this tight area. Other than Randolf Street, motorists approaching the square from Madison Street would be required to turn left, which would actually place them directly in front of a city parking deck.

I don't mean to trivialize the logistics of what I am proposing, and in fact, I expect that such a proposal would and should meet with many questions. All questions are valid, and only serve to find whether or not my proposal works.

Thanks for your blog. I was really excited to find it.


Atrian said...

I'm one of the few people I know who can navigate downtown Huntsville properly. I've heard so many horror stories of students actidentally turning the wrong way onto a one way street that it might be better if the square was blocked off just for pedestrians. At the same time it does suck since that is one my main ways of getting to 565 from my house, but it just means I have to take two extra turns to get around the square, no biggy.