Proceed with caution on Main Street traffic

Downtown Grand Junction circ., May 2009

Visitors to Grand Junction frequently remark about how pleasant the city’s downtown shopping park is. That’s the tree-lined, serpentine section of Main Street which was developed by a forward-thinking group of Grand Junction leaders in the early 1960s.

Now, almost half a century later, the city of Grand Junction and the downtown Development Authority are contemplating ways of refurbishing that portion of Main Street.

As some of the trees and planters along the street show signs of aging, some improvements definitely are needed.

The DDA held an open house this week to showcase four potential designs for the renovation, which the organization hopes can be completed in the first five months of next year. The city and the DDA would divide the costs.

The concepts unveiled all have attractive aspects, from the addition of more benches and kiosks, to the creation of a small children’s play area to the development of a public stage in one block of the area.

Plans for dealing with auto traffic on Main Street include keeping it close to is current configuration, eliminating parking spaces but allowing traffic to continue the entire length of Main Street, and closing one entire block to traffic so that portion would effectively become a tiny pedestrian mall.

We’re not convinced the last option is a good idea. One of the things that has made Grand Junction’s Main Street different from some shopping parks in historic districts is that it has meshed automobiles and people very well. Unlike some cities, there aren’t wide thoroughfares with rushing traffic that create a serious hazard for pedestrians. Traffic usually moves at a sedate pace, and drivers respect pedestrians. But, unlike those cities that have closed entire downtown streets to traffic, people are able to drive Grand Junction’s Main Street, determine what stores or attractions they want to visit, then park accordingly.

City officials, the DDA and members of this community ought to consider carefully whether it is in their best interest to eliminate a significant portion of that traffic flow.


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