GOOD STREETS DRIVE REVITALIZATION

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Help set the stage for economic development downtown. The Fairbanks Metro Area Transportation System (FMATS) will soon decide whether or not to restore two-way traffic to Cushman and Barnette streets. Doing so is a catalyst to economic development, a significant and historic change to encourage revitalization. 

 Vision Fairbanks assessed how people and their automobiles move within and through downtown. Are the movements good for commerce and vitality? Do the roadways tend to move people through downtown better than they provide access to the businesses? 
 
The answer: downtown’s one-way streets hamper economic development. Downtown’s 1-way streets are an incoherent remnant from the 1980s. The only 1-way “network” in the entire Borough, 1-way streets force drivers to drive farther to reach their destination, often confuse them, and encourage high speeds through downtown on Cushman and Barnette streets.   
 
Now is our one chance for perhaps the next 20 years to fix downtown’s incoherent traffic “plan.”  What you can do:
1.         Attend the FMATS Technical Committee meeting Wednesday, May 12 at 10 AM in Council Chambers for the CUSHMAN AND BARNETTE STREETS TWO-WAY TRAFFIC STUDY REPORT PRESENTATION
2.         Email FMATS Coordinator Donna Gardino to convey support for the two-way traffic conversion and its positive impact on revitalization djgardino@ci.fairbanks.ak.us
 
MORE . . .
Streets are vital to economic development. Vision Fairbanks calls for two-way traffic on Cushman Street. In 2007, the Fairbanks Metro Area Transportation System (FMATS) set aside funds to revise downtown traffic circulation – that is, to convert Cushman and Barnette streets to two-way traffic to encourage development downtown. In addition to the two-way traffic revision, the Plan calls for wider sidewalks, and on-street parking to ease commerce by slowing traffic speeds, increasing convenient parking, making pedestrians feel safer behind a buffer of parked cars on a wider sidewalk that retailers will be glad to have fronting their business. This picture of “signature street” infrastructure is dependent on the traffic intersection planned on the north side of the Chena River, part of the Illinois Street Reconstruction Project. 
 
As you may remember, on August 18, 2009, the FMATS Policy Committee dealt a blow to downtown revitalization. In a surprise move, FMATS voted to approve an intersection configuration on the north side of the Chena River that pre-dated by almost two years the Vision Fairbanks plan. (News-Miner stories from August 19 and August 25.) Importantly, this intersection calls for both the Cushman Street Bridge and the new Barnette Street Bridge to operate as one-way facilities.  
 
The City of Fairbanks contracted with Kittelson & Associates to determine if one-way Cushman and Barnette bridges can work with Vision Fairbanks’ signature street infrastructure to bring economic development downtown.   Kittelson & Associates will answer that question when they present their CUSHMAN AND BARNETTE STREETS TWO-WAY TRAFFIC STUDY REPORT Wednesday, May 12 at 10 AM in Council Chambers.