September 28, 2010 at 7:00 pm in INFORUM
To two-way or not to two-way? That is the question that will be considered at a public meeting Thursday evening in the Fargo City Commission room regarding downtown thoroughfares. Continue Reading
Tags: downtown traffic, Editorials, Fargo City Commission, fargo one ways, Opinion 25 Comments »
wow… Fargo has always had the dumbest city planners. Do they realize that the reason the speeds have increased in the downtown area due to the light synchronization? In order to make it through the downtown one-ways without hitting a light, a driver has to speed. Fix that first before you start clogging the roads as your stupid solution… seriously, Fargo needs to just fire all these fools and hire someone capable of critical thinking.
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I think you really mean Traffic Engineer. That would be in the Engineering Dept and not Planning. Planning deals with land use. In case you care.
Changing the two one ways into two ways, with no left turn lanes would stop traffic dead in its tracks.
Did the feasibility study take into consideration the 85 trains that roll through Fargo everyday, blocking of the three crossings downtown for approximately five hours a day? This will only cause more congestion if this radical plan is implemented. Did they consider a train accident or derailment?
Here is a worst case scenario, if the one ways are turned into two ways.
A few months ago there was a train pedestrian accident causing a tragic death of a man on the Main Avenue and Broadway RR crossing. It took the police three and a half hours to investigate the accident. This investigation meant that the train had to stop and block all of the RR crossings in downtown Fargo for three and a half hours. This accident happened on an early Saturday morning, with little traffic or pedestrian traffic.
Can you even imagine if this accident happened at the 4PM to 6PM rush hours on your way home from work? Just imagine being stopped in traffic for over three hours? Traffic would be backed up for miles on every street and every avenue in downtown Fargo and even into Moorhead, trying to get to the only two underpasses that lead south. More people live on the south side of Main Avenue that the north side, so most vehicles would be trying to go south. Road rage would run rampant. Emergency vehicles would not be able to get to car accidents, which surly would occur. Ambulances would also be stuck in traffic, trying to get a stroke or hardtack victim to St. Lukeâ€™s Merit Care Sanford Hospital. If a fire broke out downtown, fire crews would be unable to get to the fire. Fargo would be just like what happened in the movie, â€œThe Day the Earth Stood Still.â€ Nothing would be moving. Period.
It would be even worse for pedestrians, and workers getting off work; trying to get to the parking lots or parking ramps on either side of all of the RR crossings. One would have to walk, either to the Second Street underpass, the Tenth Street Underpass or the University Drive underpass, and then back to Broadway.
This would be an even greater hardship for the elderly predestines the handicapped and disabled in wheelchairs or handicapped scooters. The Second Street underpass sidewalks are just too narrow for two wheelchairs to pass each other if they meet coming from different directions. It is also to narrow for them to turn their wheelchairs around, so they would just have to sit there until help arrived. Trying to back up would be too dangerous. If one of the wheels on the wheelchair slipped off of the curb, the wheelchair could tip into the street and oncoming cars. This could lead to another fatality.
Also walking or wheeling ten to twelve long blocks to Tenth St, or the University Dr. Underpasses, then back to Broadway, would be quite a hardship for a disabled or elderly person to endure.
There have been many pedestrian train accidents, leading to death in the past. I am sure there will be more of these triadic accidents in the future. There also could be train vehicle accidents or even a train derailment. All we have to do is look back at Minot, ND and what happened to their city when a train derailed.
Fargo has just been lucky and this has not occurred during the rush hours traffic, when workers are hurrying to get home. Fargo needs to look at placing another two way underpass on Fourth St and Main; there is plenty of room for one.
If any one ways should be changed, it should be the two one ways on Tenth St. and University Dr. There just has to be more opportunities to get people moving south after work. As like I stated before, that is where the most people live. They could change back into one ways after they go under the two sets of RR tracks; like NP Avenue changes from a one way to two ways at Fourth St. N.
I have been an advocate to safety issues for the vulnerable; lobbing the city of Fargo for well over ten years now; trying to have Fargo build a handicapped accessible pedestrian overpass or underpass on the south end of Broadway and Main. This is a safety issue as well as connivance.
I even designed and drew a blueprint of a handicapped overpass for the south end of Broadway. It would look similar to the arch pedestrian bridge that crosses I-94 just west of University Dr, only on a smaller scale. I have shown a picture of this handicapped pedestrian bridge to the city commission many times; however, all of my requests over the years have just been ignored.
I have named this bridge to, â€œTHE PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE TO EVERYWHERE.â€ This would certainly help hurting business in downtown Fargo. One reason business in downtown Fargo are hurting is the fact that they close so early in the evenings; just when shoppers are able to start shopping. Many are also closed on Saturdays. After 5PM downtown Fargo turns into a ghost town; with locked doors and window dressing. Retail business can not make money by people just window shopping.
So Fargo now is the time to build this handicapped accessible pedestrian bridge to everywhere in Fargo; not like a bridge to nowhere in Alaska.
City Planners, Caleb? WHAT City Planners. We have an Administrator of the office of City Planning, and several lesser people who work on individual elements of the planning process… but NOBODY who actually has a degree in City Planning. Then we have a City Commission who is primarily either business interests or developers… deeply conflicted interests. They dictate to the City Planners office what should be done. As I said… WHAT city planner….
OK, done with my tirade……
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There were major mistakes made in the development of the DownTown… mistakes started 75 years ago, and rectifying them isn’t going to be easy… and going to 2 way streets is only going to make it worse.
The DownTown is the convergence of 3 highways, and 2 RR lines. Of COURSE its going to be congested, and to say “Lets slow the Traffic Down” is ignoring the FACT that most of those people are traveling highway routes to get AWAY from the downtown as fast as they can.
If we want to do this, and do it right, we need to do 3 things.
1) We need to build another bridge over the Red River at 13th ave. so, which will take 1/4 the traffic away from the Downtown.. and next we need to upgrade the 12th ave N bridge and re assign the traffic through THERE!
2) We really need to re route the trains to go around the city, instead of straight through it. Even without whistles, every time one of the 85 plus trains go through the DownTown, it turns the entire community into a dead end.
3) Last, we need to revamp Main Avenue to take the bulk of the traffic instead of the one ways.
These are all solutions that SHOULD have been done 50 years ago when it was easy. If we had a qualified City Planner we wouldn’t be suffering this kind of growth pains.
Slowing the traffic on the one ways is only going to bottle neck the traffic and we will start getting traffic jams.
Vertigo, I applaud you. You not only nailed the problems on the nose, but you offer extremely good solutions.
I was appauled when I was informed of the money spent on this consulting firm that, after 2 years of study, suggested creating more “conjestion” in downtown in an effort to keep people there to spend money. This move would make people avoid downtown even more. This firm clearly did not use their 2 years wisely to study the social patterns of our community.
Loved your post. YOU should be the city planner.
What annoys me the most, Jersey, is the money wasted because they DON’T get someone who is actually trained in city planning to be in control.
45th street was torn apart and rebuilt after only being 4 years old several years ago at the cost of… if I recall… $6 million. Linda coates, the planning commissioner at the time when I directly asked her, said they had no way of knowing the kind of growth in that area…
Balderdash, they knew every square foot of parking.. the area was already planned. Someone with the right software and understanding of doing traffic analysis would have known EXACTLY the kind of traffic to plan for.
$6 million would have paid the wages of a world class City Planner for life, and all the computers and software to not only bring Fargo up to speed, but WE could do those $160,000 analysis for OTHER cities!
Whats sad, is they are doing the exact same thing leading into the Davies school district as we speak!
I don’t want to make excuses here, but you have to do a better job of convincing folks in Fargo that we need to spend that kind of money on a real city planner. Reality dictates that government workers in the city don’t make the greatest wages to begin with (you’re going to have a hell-of-a-time attracting decent talent with a poor wage). On top of that, government is usually reactive, not proactive. It’s also looking for the bottom dollar to please it’s citizens. I can vouch that one of the main decisions on making 45th 4 lanes instead of 6 right off the bat was cost. It was several million less at the time. If they went ahead and did 6 lanes, people would’ve been screaming for wasting money. Irony that’s what happened anyways…
Its a waste of time trying to convince the City Commission. Thats like trying to get Congress to stop giving themselves pay raises. They have set themselves up so they can make maximum profit and to hell with whats best for the city.
I already made a compelling enough case for hiring a top notch City Planner. You cite we cannot afford it, yet if we had had a City Planner making the decisions instead of the developer driven Commission, we would have saved over 6 million.. and another $130,000 on this study. That would easily have paid a $80,000 a year Planner for a lifetime.
The problem isn’t a cheapskate community, the problem is we have a corrupt system that needs to be changed.
Totally agree with you. However I heard preliminary figures to move the railroads outside the city were in the hundreds of millions (the land alone is worth $60-$70M). Fargo needs parking ramps and they need to be built in the right places. Most people are willing to walk a couple of blocks. The mindset around here is the “park as close as possible” mentality. Of course it works for strip malls and big box stores, it doesn’t work in downtowns though. Look at most of the big cities in the midwest and you’ll see they’ve either got numerous parking ramps, or an excellent “park and ride” transit system to get them where they need to go downtown.
A city commissioner stated that â€œBroadway is working, and we want to extend that success east and west.â€ From a commuter’s standpoint it is not working and it has become pretty much a parking lot and pedestrian walkway. Anyone who has driven on it quickly learns to avoid attempting to use it as a thoroughfare.
This is an issue that affects Fargo as a whole, not just the downtown merchants. Crossing into Moorhead requires using one of the major downtown bridges, and the present system works well. Turning major thoroughfares into streets like broadway is a bad idea.
The saddest part of all this is they spent $140,000 on this study! Of course the analysts aren’t going to say, “Leave it as it is, it works fine.” The analysts needed to give the city something for their money! In the end, all they got was a poor recommendation that will make downtown travel much worse if adopted.
I completely agree with the comments so far. Slowing down traffic through downtown is in no way going to benefit businesses. It will cause many, many people to avoid downtown altogether. It already takes me 10 minutes to get through downtown on Broadway at noon. Let’s at least keep it flowing quick going east and west!!
IF IT AIN’T BROKE DON’T FIX IT!
IMHO, getting rid of the one way’s is a horrible idea. make it harder/slower to get in/out of and people will avoid it like the plague. thankfully, i rarely need to venture there. make it more difficult and i’ll surely take my business elsewhere entirely.
Ah, but if the one-ways are converted to two-ways and people “avoid it like the plague” then there will be no congestion. Eh?
Vertigo and Caleb–you are right on!
Lets talk about a couple of things a true City Planner would have done differently in our community.
Lets start with the CityScapes Hocky arena and Convention Center.
It was a good idea, and should have been carried out.. EXCEPT for one thing. It didn’t belong in the DownTown.
Our community is large enough to support this project, and a professional hockey team would benefit the city. The problem is, and a trained city planner would have said so right off the bat, is that the DownTown is an innapropriate location for that kind of venue. It had poor access, and would have flooded the area during certain times with clientele wrong for the DownTown causing congestion from hell.
Where it belonged, and it would have easily passed if it had been in another location, is at the SunMart location on 13th ave S and 25th Str. There, it would have had the highway access from 2 directions to move the 3,000 plus people attending events there, and there were lots of appropriate stores for “Hockey Mom’s” to do their shopping.. and hanging around.
What happened though, is that the Commission.. in CityScapes (Bullock’s) pocket, wasn’t looking out for the best interest of the city, they wanted to do what the developer told them to do… a developer who wanted to garner control of a huge chunk of the downtown through eminent domain. There was never a suggestion to move the development, or find compromise. The citizens had to go to the effort of a referendum to stop it!!
How should things like this arena/convention center been handled?
Early on in the city planning process, in the masterplanning of the city, the Planner zones certain areas for specific uses… some of them can be VERY specific uses. They don’t have to be built, just zoned and put on the table so people can discuss and eventually actualize the projects. If something better comes up for any one of those spaces, its easy to change the zoning with community dialogue.
Examples of things that should have been masterplanned in many years ago? That Hockey Arena.. the Dome should have been planned that way, the Zoo, a Fine Arts Center, a Museum of Natural History, a planetarium, Botanical Gardens… just to name a few.
Problems arising from NOT doing this? Look at what happened to the Zoo. What is traditionally a municipal ammenity, was forced to grow privately. When they finally put in the infrastructure to support this ammenity that was built far out, they had to pay for ALL of it, including an overpass that didn’t even have access to their front door, and they were given an incredibly absurd tax bill for something that the community should be paying for in the first place.
It costs nothing to masterplan these amenities in, and they give a vision to the community. This inspires the people to become active and build their community. Right now, the only things we have to do in Fargo is go to Church, Bars, or protest at the abortion clinic.
Thats sad and for a community of 100,000, we should have much more.
I would like to comment next about this $130,000 survey. This is something that should be an ongoing process conducted by the office of the city planner as part of their doing business. They should be constantly studying the City, and at any time be able to tell you how the traffic flows, or which streets need repairing. There are GIS programs that once you put in the data, tell you EXACTLY which roads should be changed to 2 ways or one ways… or shut down completely. Why doesn’t our office of City Planner do this?
The information garnered from this study could have easily been found in any of 6 yearly Sr. Thesis’ at the NDSU Architecture dept. There are ALWAYS several people doing their project on the DownTown and its required they do all this leg work to get their degree.. they are required to do chapters on Inventory and Analysis. It doesn’t cost THEM $130,000 to collect this information, I assure you.
Perhaps the City Planner should actually attend thesis presentations. Mike Williams does, I saw him there this spring!
I also wonder what happened to the last DownTown study they paid another $240,000 on 6 years ago when they redesigned the DownTown. They didn’t change traffic patterns or types of business, just added a bunch of condo’s and gentrified the business climate. Different pavers on the sidewalks don’t change a thing… oops, thats right, they added diagonal parking.
This is what happens when you have unqualified people doing the design of a community. They have to hire “Consultants” at top dollar because they themselves are clueless.
Slowing down traffic, making it more “pedestrian/bicycle-friendly,” etc…didn’t we do this already? I thought it was called the “Broadway Mall?” That worked out so well.
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I hate downtown and try to avoid it if at all possible. The pain-in-the-butt one ways, horrible parking, lack of access to highways, old dumpy buildings, etc. etc. I know some people like it’s “character”, but I’m not one of them. If you do something about the one ways, you have to do something about the lack of parking…and not costly parking lots that you have to walk five blocks to you destination. Downtown Fargo bites.
I’ve read all of the comments here, and for the most part I see nothing but generalizations and cynicism. If you guys really feel that Fargo is such a hopeless case, why do you live here? Are you being held at gunpoint? Somebody please give me one substantive criticism of the proposed return to two-way traffic along these avenues other than “Isn’t it obvious…this plan will just add to the congestion in the heart of town.” Well, I say that it isn’t obvious and I’d like to hear how you arrived at your assertions using facts and logic, rather than appeals to emotionalism or tradition or the stock responses that supposedly pass for common sense. Take your time…I’ll be around.
leave them they way they are. it will only confuse people and cause more traffic proplems
Please bear with me as I bring my thoughts full circle. This issue represents a much larger “problem” that I find the so called Leaders of this city find themselves spending time addressing. If these so called leaders would step back and reassess their views on what the “vision” of Fargo is to a majority of residents, and where they spend their time and $$$, then these leaders would be in a better position to represent the will of the majority, and not their political allies, conflict of interest friends, and Good Ol boys club that dominates decision making here.
I believe the time has come to change the thinking of what the citizens of Fargo consider â€œdowntownâ€. The downtown designation needs to be moved to the corridor between Main and 13th along I-94. Whenever my family talks about going downtown to the mall, we are implying that 13th/I94 is the center of our Fargo experience.
If a downtown is a reflection of its communities people and heritage, than West Acres is a correct location for this communities people, who struggle by making barely livable wages, needing to find cost conscientious deals to keep their families afloat. Implying that the Broadway Historic district represents a reflection of the average Fargoan is laughable. Few can afford the leisure time to stroll down a long expanse of large buildings seeking that just so cute boutique for that ohh so unique precious gem of a item that has likey been marked up for appearing in that boutique.
Broadway may indeed be an essential part of Fargo’s historic identity, however it doesnâ€™t have to represent our cityâ€™s DOWNTOWN. It can represent a district, just like many cities have a historic waterfront district, or a warehouse district etc etc..
I continually find that we have a mentality (driven heavily by old(er) citizens) who insist on spending tax revenues in an area of town that fewer and fewer citizens desire to spend any time near. Fargo needs to face reality that without city government, and a couple of the banks and the Sanford Hospital complex being down there, that portion of the city would have already withered away on its own. You see that is one of the classic problems with Fargo, its leaders, its identity, and its future. There is no cohesive belief amongst all stakeholders as to exactly where to focus a united effort on a real City Core that the citizens can get behind.
And sadly due to the skewed self interests of a corrupt City Government, we as citizens will have to continue to bend over and take it as the City of Fargo continues to over-promote this congested pet favorite area of an overall larger City.
A downtown area is the place where the majority of citizens congregate when looking for social, shopping and recreational opportunities. What do you believe the majority of people who are asked that question about Fargo? What would they say about where they go for those activities?
The current downtown should be permanently renamed the â€œFargo Historic Districtâ€, and we need to now let that area thrive or die without further extra incentives. City Governement needs to recognize that as Fargo continues to grow south, fewer and fewer residents frequent the Historic District area. Fewer feel compelled to have to go down in that bottleneck surrounded by the Berlin Wall of BNSF, narrow cobblestone roads, parking nightmares and congestion.
Case in point. Wasting $$$ on this road changing idea being pushed by a minority against a tide of opposition from the majority who want to see the roads remain the way they are.
Enough with spending our valuable tax $$$ trying to prop up a dead horse! Enough with wasting $$$ trying to change traffic!
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