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Will Third Avenue facelift benefit the community? Peter Watry | Sat, Dec 18 2010 12:00 PM

With the use of some grant money, the city may soon approve a project called the "Third Avenue Streetscape" which will make significant changes to Third Avenue between F Street and H Street.

Crossroads II is still trying to sort out the effects, and so has scheduled a public meeting for next Monday, Dec. 20, in the public services north building (the old police station). Anyone with concerns or questions may attend. Here are some of our concerns at this point - we hope to get answers on the 20th.

Traffic. When the project is complete, Third Avenue will be one lane in each direction all the way from F Street to almost H Street. Most of that is now two lanes in each direction. Presumably, this will reduce traffic on Third Ave. For through traffic that uses Third now, where will that traffic be diverted to - Del Mar? Second Avenue? Fourth Avenue?

The median strips you see now between F Street to just beyond Center Street, will now be extended all the way to H Street. That will make it difficult or impossible to make left-hand turns into or out of business driveways along the way. In the existing area of medians, the medians do not block any business driveways -- but between, say, G Street and H Street, many business have driveways fronting on Third Avenue.

For the first time for most people, the intersections will feature "bulb-outs," where the sidewalk "bulbs" out a few feet into Third Avenue. The purpose of these "bulb-outs" is to make the distance shorter for pedestrians trying to cross Third Avenue. Part of the goal of this project is to make Third Avenue more pedestrian-friendly, and while that appears to be a good idea, and Crossroads II is pleased with that aspect, it may make some automobile turns at corners more difficult. This is an interesting feature and new to most of us.

Crossroads II members have other questions to be answered, but the overall basic question, it seems to us, is, are you sure this will improve the business prospects for Third Avenue businesses? We all know how difficult it is to operate a profitable business on Third Avenue now, so will going from 4 lanes to 2 lanes, prohibiting left-hand turns, and making turns at certain corners more difficult improve their business prospects? That is the big question.

In any case, we hope those who are interested will come to our public meeting on Monday, December 20, at 6:30 pm in the Public Service North building (the old police station) at the corner of Davidson and Fourth.

Watry is vice-president of Crossroads II.

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