I agree to Idea Remove most of auto traffic from the Square.
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I disagree to Idea Remove most of auto traffic from the Square.

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Remove most of auto traffic from the Square.

The Downtown Square has so much potential. Remove the auto traffic (except one lane on the east side) and create a walking space and plaza areas from the newly claimed area. Let's face it, there's not much parking at the square, so removing the circular traffic will not impact 90% of the drivers, because 90% of us park on the periphery blocks.

This move will encourage bikeability and walking. And it's a proven fact that more commerce is created by walkers and bikers. The new downtown park would connect with big springs park further enhancing the green space or our parks.

Cities all across the nation are revitalizing their downtown spaces by removing the auto. Let's do it.

Submitted by 8 months ago

Comments (16)

  1. I disagree for three reasons. One, as long as the courthouse is the 800 pound gorilla in the square, it won't be much of a park/plaza. Two, there is a need for parking for the courthouse for vehicle inspections and handicapped access. And three, there is no good place to re-route traffic on the west side.

    I would love to have downtown plaza for festivals, art shows and relaxation, but I think we need to find a place where it will work better.

    8 months ago
    1. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

      Regarding handicap access, inspections and delivery vehicles, I mentioned leaving a single lane. That is plenty.

      Regarding traffic rerouting that's easy. I'd give up driving around the circle in a heart beat. I remember how much I enjoyed the pop UP parks last fall. Automobiles are the cause of the decline of our city centers. So exclude them to make our cities more livable.

      8 months ago
  2. Moderator

    I would actually disagree as well, but for different reasons. For one, I (perhaps optimistically) don't envision the 800 lb gorilla sitting there forever, and I think that turning that parcel into greenspace would do HUGE things for the square. I also believe that it's not the car that has killed downtowns, but rather our emphasis (in terms of creating infrastructure) of the car over other modes that has killed downtowns. For the health of retail, it's very much preferable to have auto traffic circulating past the storefronts, as well as some level of teaser parking. But it needs to be accommodated in a mixed-mode environment - blur the lines of the street so that peds and bikes feel more comfortable moving through the square, and so that a lower cruising speed is a natural result of the street design. My basic philosophy for commercial cores is "More Modes, Treated Equally".

    8 months ago
    1. I'm torn. I think it is a great space for a city plaza, but I also feel strongly that the courthouse should be at the heart of the city; it's what makes it THE downtown. (Not necessarily *that* particular courthouse building. It really has no redeeming aesthetic characteristics at all.)

      8 months ago
  3. Moderator

    I don't blame you. The problem is that the modern courthouse program has evolved to a scale that no longer physically fits into a historic courthouse square. I'd love to see a lot of the uses relocated just off the square (and there is land downtown), but whatever solution we look to has to work for the County and the people who are looking for those services.

    As for the aesthetic, I would count myself as a fan of Modernism (well-executed); my issue with the facility has more to do with its scale. Even an 1880s Flatiron building would stick out - it's so oversized that it casts a literal and experiential shadow on the rest of the Square.

    Fun stuff to discuss, though...

    8 months ago
  4. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    I'm only hearing one concrete reason this won't work. What to do with the south bound traffic on Jefferson. That could be solved. The one thing that bugs me about that the courthouse building is the fact that the upper floors are Madison Jail. Is it still there?

    8 months ago
    1. I know they built the new one, but I'm not sure if they are still using the old one as a jail or for other purposes.

      I think the handicapped parking is more important than you are thinking. It's always full and for those with mobility difficulties, hiking up the hill from the parking garage can be insurmountable.

      I haven't downvoted though because I'd be open to the right plan.

      7 months ago
    2. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

      Auto traffic for the handicapped could still be allowed, but not thru traffic. A lane for handicapped use can be accommodated with signage.

      7 months ago
  5. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    My wife and I rode bikes to downtown yesterday, and we toured this square. It occurred to me that a compromise could be made to reduce the 2 complete lanes to just one lane plus parking. This would have the affect of a traffic calming measure which would encourage more pedestrian traffic. I am certain that the most beautiful and admired cities are those that do-not include the automobile.

    7 months ago
  6. The shop owners and restaurants on the square have endorsed this idea:

    http://www.imaginehuntsville.com/a/dtd/Marketplace-on-the-Square/497916-20895

    or here: www.marketplaceonthesquare.com

    Which I also strongly suggest for everyone on this thread. It'd be a huge improvement.

    7 months ago
  7. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    Here's a great video from Street Films showing NYC, the metamorphosis. That city really gets it. It's amazing what they've done. Removed, reduced, and calmed traffic. Added public spaces, bike lanes and even a bike freeway. As a visitor to Huntsville's square, I'd like to see more pedestrian space.

    7 months ago
  8. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    http://inhabitat.com/dutch-city-boasts-three-times-as-many-bikes-as-cars/

    That little town of 90 thousand people rerouted cars. Prevented cars from taking a direct route across their city. Instead they prioritized the route for biking and walking. Now this town is revitalized and is thriving. That's the town I want to live in.

    7 months ago
  9. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    Groningen, is "the worlds cycling city". This city is the gold standard with regards to bikeability. It wouldn't hurt to embrace some of what's working.

    How nice it was to read this morning's paper, the story titled "city of youth, Growth and Greenways".

    7 months ago
  10. This isn't a bad idea, and would be fine if there were an underground parking structure somewhere on the square (That is how it worked well in the city where I lived in Germany). That way you weren't ever too far from your car to tote your shopping bags, etc. I really do think it would be beneficial for traffic to be lessened on the square by creating a better way to get around the area with the existing roads...I have been stuck for several light cycles at that light at Harrison Bros. Hardware a few times now, without even having any business being on the square, just trying to navigate my way through town to get somewhere nearby.

    7 months ago
  11. dave.j.cousins Idea Submitter

    No longer shared. Ceresplein in Assen got rid of …:

    Here's a city in the Netherlands the removed cars from there downtown. This is paradise to me. For Huntsville, a auto diet is probably more popular. Remove a lane, adding more walking, pedestrian, and Outdoor dining spaces.

    6 months ago
  12. I live in two cities, though most time, residential status in Huntsville, and New York, Manhattan, and I'm a cyclist. In NYC some friends and I meet midtown Manhattan, travel there by bicycle, we sit in the square at tables, each of us buy food and drink at different businesses; the tables and chairs not associated with any business. The previous mayor, Mayor Bloomberg, realized one fact, pedestrians buy from stores, whether transported there by public transit, bicycle, or were wise enough to park on outskirts and use alternative transit. The one lane exception a good idea, means more parking for handicap, and the very elderly. I add that the square needs bike parking for cyclists to lock bicycles. One mention important, I feel safer there because of the Sheriff's department. I have eaten lunch there and talked with deputies. There is a plus their hq there.

    6 months ago

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  1. The idea was posted
    8 months ago