The conversion of the one-ways was recommended in the City Center Master Plan as a way to help nurture an urban neighborhood with apartments and small businesses. The plan suggests that relatively high-speed one-way streets are less pedestrian-friendly than two-ways, are confusing for tourists and other drivers visiting downtown, and may discourage those visitors from finding their way back to retail establishments that they spot while whizzing by on busy arterials.
Consultants from the traffic engineering firm Gonzalez-Strength, Inc., are studying the feasibility of the proposed conversion, including such issues as traffic flow, timing of traffic signals and the interface of downtown streets with expressways.'a0 At the meeting, they will'a0solicit comments from the public, particularly City Center merchants, residents and property owners.'a0 The City of Birmingham, Operation New Birmingham (ONB), the Birmingham Metropolitan Planning Organization and the RPC are conducting the study.
This meeting should be well attended, due to concerns expressed in the last two weeks by residents and merchants on Second and Third Avenues North that the conversion could mean the loss of badly needed parking spaces. About 35 merchants and loft dwellers attended an informal gathering last Thursday at a downtown residence to discuss the issue.'a0 The meeting was attended by ONB President Michael Calvert; Don Lupo, of the Mayor's Office of Citizen Assistance; and Andre Bitta, Director of the City's Department of Planning, Engineering and Permits.
"We're not going to sacrifice parking to get two-way streets," Bitta said.'a0 "Parking is part of the master plan."'a0 The officials also stressed that no final decision has been made regarding the conversion.'a0 "All we're doing is looking at a study to see if it's feasible or not," Bitta said.
Calvert and Bitta urged the attendees to go to the public meeting on Jan. 27 and offer input to the traffic engineering consultants. "Come and tell them that you absolutely don't want to lose parking, because that's what our instructions to them were," Calvert said.'a0 "We're seven months away from a plan, so you have plenty of time for input," Bitta said.
The public meeting will take place from 5:30-7 p.m. in the RPC's first-floor conference room. Anyone who requires special accommodations should contact Cissy Edwards Crowe at 264-8402 as soon as possible.