Planning Month: Downtown Street Improvements Project (Front & Franklin, Front & Seward)
Because the construction season and tourist season have an unfortunate overlap, a project happening downtown isn’t just about what will be built, but how and when. Downtown business owners may be excited about the improvements, but how people will get to their businesses during construction? Or residents may wonder – How do I get home? Where do I park?
CBJ’s Downtown Street Improvements Project illustrates the balance of community and tourism needs. The designs incorporated information from nine plans and public input from over 100 people. “The overarching design criteria and construction schedule for the project were direct outcomes of the planning meetings,” Project Manager Lori Sowa says.
The Downtown Street Improvements were made without sacrificing parking. Consolidated parking lanes replaced delineated parking spaces, which provides parking flexibility depending on vehicle size. Sidewalks are easier to maintain, and may seem wider since light poles, signs and garbage cans were relocated to create more usable space. The intersection was elevated and curbs eliminated at the corner of Front and Seward Streets to create a more pedestrian-friendly, plaza feel. Concrete colors and patterns add visual interest at the intersections. Efficient LED street lighting is better positioned to illuminate under the canopies and designed to complement Historic District design standards. Street art includes cultural medallions and salmon stamps embedded in the concrete sidewalk.
Based on community feedback, construction was planned to be relatively high impact but short duration. Once construction started, the team checked in with business owners and residents at weekly meetings. Planning has been a major contributor to the success of the project so far.
Next time you hear of a planning meeting that sounds intriguing, participate and help make the next community project a success.
(Aerial photo of the intersection was taken by Josh McGraw.)