Sisiopiku presented her findings at a public meeting held by the City of Birmingham on Tuesday, May 19, at the Birmingham Public Library’s Arrington Auditorium. Sisiopiku is working with Gonzalez-Strength & Associates, the Birmingham traffic engineering firm that is conducting the study. The purpose of the meeting was to present the initial results of the study, and to answer questions and solicit comment from the public. About 50 City Center residents, property owners and business people attended.
The possibility that the conversion would take away much-needed parking spaces has created widespread concern about the plan among downtown residents and business people. The issue was discussed at a previous public meeting on Jan. 27 and at an informal gathering on Jan. 22.
In addition to creating the possibility of more parking spaces downtown and creating bike lanes, the plan could have other benefits, according to Sisiopiku, including improved traffic flow and a reduction in emissions, meaning better air quality in the area.
No final decision has been made as to whether the City of Birmingham will proceed with the plan, according to Andre Bittas, the City’s Director of Engineering, Planning and Permits. “This is just a study to see it this is feasible,” he said. Bitta also pointed out that the implementation of the plan would require a large capital expenditure and would have to be approved by the mayor and city council.
The conversion of the one-ways is recommended by the City Center Master Plan, which 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.
The city, Operation New Birmingham, the Birmingham Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham are the agencies sponsoring the feasibility study.