Some redesign ideas for downtown Northampton

Published: 4/22/2021 3:03:35 PM Change is inevitable. But thoughtful change takes into account the many variables that are affected...

Published: 4/22/2021 3:03:35 PM

Change is inevitable. But thoughtful change takes into account the many variables that are affected by it. When it comes to downtown Northampton’s redesign, I am in favor of four lanes for cars.

One lane in each direction would cause traffic back ups beyond Smith College and as far as the Coolidge Bridge at times. This would lead to avoidance of downtown. And, reducing traffic downtown to only increase it in other surrounding neighborhoods seems selfish and defeats any purpose of lowering carbon emissions.

Bicycle lanes aren’t something I would ever use, but I realize some people believe they would go downtown more often if this option was available to them. Last year, when I drove through downtown during the brief restructuring of Main Street I was visually overwhelmed. The change was so visually distracting that it made it less safe for drivers to drive safely, and therefore less safe for pedestrians.

The merchants of downtown spoke up loudly and the mayor listened — paused to listen might be a better way to describe it. How this reconstruction would affect downtown businesses should be a major consideration that is taken into account. Why? Because nobody wants to go downtown if there are very few businesses in operation. And there will be fewer businesses if you make getting downtown and parking so time consuming, because people will say, “This is not worth my time and energy,” and they’ll shop and dine elsewhere.

With all that, I wonder if a compromise is still possible? I would take out all parking on one side of Main Street (whichever side has fewer parking spots). This should allow the addition of a bike lane on both sides of Main Street, keeping the sidewalks as they are now, and allowing for freer flowing of vehicles in each direction. It would maintain about half the street parking.

It’s a compromise that would require less disruption to the businesses that already exist and have so much invested already. It would require less construction time also. And it should cost less than the other plans since the only changes would be the layout of the street. And we all should think about the costs — just because money is available doesn’t mean one has to spend the entire budget, even if the money is “free.”

Kim McGovern


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Newsrust - US Top News: Some redesign ideas for downtown Northampton
Some redesign ideas for downtown Northampton
Newsrust - US Top News
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