On Sunday, September 5, 2010, the Nevada Appeal ran an article entitled “Main Street makeover: Business owners divided over Carson Street plan.” The article laid out the general vision of what might happen to Carson Street now that some of the traffic has been diverted to the freeway and parallel streets have been or will be improved. It provided viewpoints pro from downtown business owners and con from other business owners and individuals. Some of the same con viewpoints were expressed at the last Carson City Board of Supervisors meeting.
I’d like to reply to the article, and to the opposition, with my thoughts.
The terms “narrowing” and “road diet” do not capture what Carson City transportation advocates would like to see on Carson Street. The term “complete streets” does. The National Complete Streets Coalition says:
“The streets of our cities and towns are an important part of the livability of our communities. They ought to be for everyone, whether young or old, motorist or bicyclist, walker or wheelchair user, bus rider or shopkeeper. But too many of our streets are designed only for speeding cars, or worse, creeping traffic jams.
Now, in communities across the country, a movement is growing to complete the streets. States, cities and towns are asking their planners and engineers to build road networks that are safer, more livable, and welcoming to everyone.”
Transportation for America is hosting a series of posts on Livability in rural and small town America. There is a great introduction that places livability in the context of non-urban areas, where is often not recognized. Four case studies have been posted so far, with eight more to come. Of the places so far, Cache Valley Utah is probably the closest in setting to Carson City.
Carson City Public Works recently rebuilt the sidewalks on Fourth St between Carson St and Curry St, as well as some nearby sidewalks along Fifth St and along Curry St. Years of neglect and tree roots had left the sidewalks almost unusable. It is sad to see the old large trees gone, but they were causing problems for not only sidewalks but sewer systems as well.
Comma Coffee and its associated businesses just added chairs, tables and umbrellas to Fourth St, creating a little island of livability in downtown Carson City. There are several other places, particularly Firkin and Fox and Bella Fiore Wines on Third, and Doppelgangers at Curry and Proctor, where local businesses have turned their businesses outward to street seating and more involvement with pedestrians. These are small steps, but great to see. If you’d like to see more of these amenities in Carson City, please frequent the places that have them, and let them know why you are there!