DES MOINES – Making downtown Des Moines more connected — that’s what economic developers want to do.
The Greater Des Moines Partnership says changing one-way streets to two-way streets is the best way to do that. They’re calling the project Connect Downtown. It aims to get rid of one way streets, a plan from which both residents and businesses in the downtown area will benefit.
Local 5 spoke to people that spoke to say they like the idea.
“Two-way streets downtown, beautiful concept, I’d be all for it 100 percent,” said Des Moines resident Wynn Gochenour. “Two-way streets would allow us to get to where we need to go quicker, faster in my opinion, safely because sometimes those one way streets come up and you decide you can’t turn that way because you see oncoming traffic.”
Des Moines resident Jami Haberl says, “It just causes a little bit more confusion so they two-way just consistency helps, will slow down traffic too, which is, from a walking perspective, is really important.”
Meg Schneider is the Senior Vice President with the Greater Des Moines Partnership. She says improving how we drive and walk downtown is the goal of Connect Downtown.
“It’s all about safety,” Schneider said. “If you don’t want to be behind a person who is going a particular speed, you have the opportunity to then jockey around them and that actually increases speeding,” Schneider said. “Additionally, when you have two-way traffic on a street, folks are subconsciously encouraged to go the speed limit.”
Schneider says one-way streets are dangerous. She adds that two-way streets will also make an economic impact on the community.
“It’s actually better for retail because you have a better perception of what is on the streets next to you,” Schneider said.
Businesses like Lord Midas, a men’s clothing store at 6th and Locust, say a new street system would help them increase sales.
“It certainly wouldn’t hurt,” said Alejandro Ledezma, the store manager at Lord Midas located downtown. “More visibility, more foot traffic, more customers in the store — I’m sure it would help business.”
Project leaders say their 18 months of work so far all has one purpose: “Continuing to create that place that is downtown Des Moines, that is very special,” Schneider said.
Connect Downtown could cost roughly $33 million. Project leaders are still figuring out where that funding will come from. The Greater Des Moines Partnership says they hope to phase in the project over the next 10 years. The Des Moines City Council still has to sign off on the plan. That will be brought up to them later this month.