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Four lanes to three: Input meeting on 1st Avenue corridor draws a crowd

Mayor Katie Andersen speaks at a public input meeting Thursday on proposed plans to change the downtown corridor along 1st Avenue. About 60 people attended the meeting. Chris Olson / The Sun

Amanda Thrift liked what she saw, at least conceptually, at a public input meeting hosted by the city of Jamestown on proposed changes to the downtown corridor along 1st Avenue.

The city is looking at changing 1st Avenue from 8th Street South to 5th Street Northwest, and 5th Street Northwest from 1st Avenue to 4th Avenue Northwest. The major change, if supported by the public, would reduce the number of traffic lanes on 1st Avenue and portions of 5th Street Northwest from four to three. Mayor Katie Andersen said other changes proposed as part of the project include aesthetic improvements like additional park benches and expanding the theme of the Hansen Arts Park to throughout the downtown area. She said the city would also like to synchronize the traffic signal in the downtown area.

“I think they have a lot of good ideas,” Thrift said. “It’s an interesting concept.”

Andersen and Travis Dillman, interim city engineer, said the public can submit written comments by Feb.15 to: Travis Dillman, City Engineer, 102 3rd Ave. NE, Jamestown, ND 58401 or by email at travis.dillman@interstateeng.com. Once Interstate Engineering has gone through all the public comments and made revisions to the proposed changes, the city will an estimated project cost and will apply for an Urban Road Grant. The grant is part of Gov. Doug Burgum’s Downtown Initiative through the North Dakota Department of Transportation. The application deadline is Feb. 23 and any construction work would take place in 2019.

Andersen said the changes this proposed project would bring about would make the downtown area more pedestrian friendly, without vastly impacting traffic flow.

One way the proposed changes would make the downtown area more pedestrian friendly would be by placing “bumpouts” at the intersections. Bumpouts are cement areas that basically extend sidewalks out further into the street, reducing the amount of street a person has to walk to cross a street.

Dillman said the width of 1st Avenue and 5th Street Northwest would remain the same, but by repainting the road lines, the traffic lanes and the parking lines would become wider. There would be a center turning lane than one lane of traffic travel in either direction.

Police Chief Scott Edinger said he supports the proposed change.

“I think with wider lanes, people will drive slower,” he said. “People tend to drive faster when they can’t see as well.” he said.

With wider traffic and parking lanes, there will also be more room for opening and closing of vehicle doors. He said having the bumpouts will also make it easier and safer for pedestrians to cross at intersections.

Jon Beyer, co-owner of Jonny B’s Brickhouse restaurant, also said he liked what he saw at the meeting Thursday, although he was disappointed to hear the changes would not include diagonal parking on 1st Avenue.

Andersen said even with 60 feet of street space, having three lanes of traffic, there isn’t enough width to safely allow diagonal parking.

Anyone interested in seeing the PowerPoint presentation on the proposed project may call city hall at 252-5900.