By Kevin Collison
Oak Street through the Crossroads District of downtown sometimes can be a speedway, the worse incident perhaps occurring in late 2014 when a car plowed into a building at the corner of 18th Street during a police chase.
The East Crossroads area it serves also has attracted a host of new bars, restaurants and microbreweries in recent years, putting a higher demand on finding parking.
So the City Public Works Department has worked out a plan with the Crossroads Community Association that will help both tame the traffic and furnish more parking on Oak between Truman Road and 18th Street.
Only trouble, it probably won’t be implemented until spring.
“Oak Street is a big north-south connector with three lanes in each direction,” said Beth Breitenstein, a spokeswoman for Public Works.
“People like to speed through the Crossroads and the community association asked us to took at how to calm the street and businesses wanted parking. We were able to look at the options for angled parking and traffic calming.”
So what the city came up with was reducing the northbound lanes between 18th and Truman to two travel lanes with reduced width and one diagonal parking lane. The southbound lanes will be one travel lane and one parking lane.
While the exact number of additional parking spaces was unavailable, it requires about 20 feet to parallel park vs 12-13 feet for angled parking. As is the case with diagonal parking on McGee, vehicles will have to back into the diagonal slots.
David Johnson of the Crossroads Community Association said the group began requesting funding for the Oak Street project from the city Public Improvements Advisory Committee (PIAC) three years ago. Funding for the effort finally made the PIAC budget this year.
“As we got into it, there was a rash of high-speed chases and people driving recklessly,” Johnson said. “Traffic calming has been a big goal of this project.”
While there had been hopes the work would be done relatively soon, Breitenstein said the new striping necessary won’t occur until spring.
“Our short line crews in house are unable to perform the work due to commitments to restriping of crosswalks that they are already having to do on the weekends,” she said. “So, we’re looking at a spring implementation.”