Smart Streets initiative meetings gives glimpse of what's coming - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Smart Streets initiative meetings gives glimpse of what's coming to downtown South Bend

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One-way streets in downtown South Bend will be turning into two-ways One-way streets in downtown South Bend will be turning into two-ways
A look at what South Bend's “Smart Streets” initiative will feature was on display Thursday evening.  Toole Design Group Transportation Engineer Ian Lockwood lead the “Next Steps for Two-Way Streets” presentation at the Century Center in South Bend.

Lockwood's firm was hired by the city to give downtown South Bend a new look.  He introduced the “Smart Streets” concept in Fall 2013 and it has been in the works since.

Lockwood showed detailed design concepts for converting one-way streets into two-way streets in the downtown area.  The two streets to be converted first will be Lafayette and William.  Both streets are two-way for the most part so this project would convert the areas of these streets that are not.  The project is expected to begin this spring and be done by Fall 2014.


Jack Smith lives on William Street and is looking forward to the entire street becoming a two-way.  He says it should have happened a long time ago.  He also added he would have to get used to being able to turn left and right on the street.  "I'm going to have to learn how to turn my blinker on back and forth. I won't know what to do," Smith said laughing.

The goal is to make the South Bend area more connected and ultimately benefit downtown business owners. "It should help businesses do much better because they have effectively twice the access that they had from before," Lockwood said.

Business owners who attended Thursday's presentation seem to be on board with Lockwood's vision.

"It's not based on trendy applications of what is hot currently.  It's actually a return to the concept of what an urban environment should be," William Coleman of Coleman Architecture said.

"This streets seem to be a part of what needs to happen to make things grow further," John Farrell of Crowe Horwath LLP said.

Farrell says he is excited about the new changes but has heard some concern from other downtown South Bend business owners. "I think the challenge is that we've changed downtown a number of times and everyone's concerned this is the newest flavor so is this really going to work," Farrell said.

Some of the other additions besides turning the downtown streets into two-ways is to include protected bike lanes, bring traffic along the river front, and build roundabouts to help connect the flow of traffic. Lockwood says the goal is to make downtown into a vibrant place that is accessible to cars, bikes, and pedestrians.  He says he has implemented such changes in other cities successfully but believes that isn't the necessary proof the changes will work.

"Somebody that was doubtful I would suggest just look back at the history of this city and when the streets were two way it was very successful. It was a very vibrant downtown," Lockwood said.

Another part of the initiative focuses on streetscape enhancements on East Jefferson Blvd. Work is expected to begin in 2015.  Other main streets like Main and Michigan will also become two-way streets in the future as apart of another phase of the Smart Streets initiative.






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