Tuesday’s presentation at City Hall outlining the Niagara Region’s plans for the painting & reconstruction of Bridge 13 – Welland’s Main St. bridge – has sparked some healthy discussion across the city. Allan Benner‘s article in yesterday’s Welland Tribune looked at the potential for two-way traffic on the Division St. bridge . All this talk regarding the planned restoration of the Main St. bridge this summer raises a question: has a study been done on the feasibility of restoring two-way traffic to downtown Welland on a permanent basis?
Hamilton’s 2001 conversion of James & John Streets to two-way traffic has been called “an unmitigated success.” The two-waying of St. Paul Street in St. Catharines in 2009, though controversial at first, has had positive results. In fact, the rationale behind eliminating one-way streets altogether is becoming clearer, as suggested in this National Post article:
Two-way roads would help to “‘normalize’ the streets, by slowing traffic, creating a greater choice of routes, improving wayfinding, creating a more inviting address for residential and commercial investment and improving safety for pedestrians and cyclists,” according to a plan drafted by consulting firm Urban Strategies Inc.
There was a time, perhaps, when one-way traffic in downtown Welland made sense. Most one-way streets were converted from two-way streets during the middle decades of the 20th century in order to ease automobile traffic flow. During that time, there were numerous factories in and around downtown Welland & there was a need to get hundreds of workers in & out of the factories in a quick, orderly fashion. When the factories closed down, we continued to sacrifice “quality of place” for a quick method of getting cars THROUGH our downtown.
Keanin Loomis of Hamilton’s Innovation Factory, explains what one-way traffic says about how we view our cities…
There is certainly no sense in blaming our leaders of past eras – there was a contagion running through every municipal government in North America. Our parents’ and grandparents’ generations made a lot of bad decisions as they tinkered with society-building in the post-War era. Architecture from that era is ugly. Suburbs and highways killed cities and neighborhoods.
While I take issue with his thoughts on post-war architecture (I happen to like the Division St Post Office, built in 1950 & the beautiful mid-century homes around Chippawa Park), the rest of that quote is pretty apt.
The arguments in favour of one-way traffic (especially in this article’s case) don’t really seem to hold up any more – especially in Welland. Have a look at both sides of the discussion in this Calgary Sun article, which offers a primer on one-way vs. two-way streets.
Is two-way traffic in downtown Welland feasible? Is it desireable?