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Moore713

Main st Improvments

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Reopen Main Street Square to vehicular traffic, I'd say. It would also be cool to see Main Street extend north to Spring and south to Pearland somehow, too...

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Close the rest of Main Street to vehicular traffic, through Downtown at least. That's my dream.

Edited by kylejack
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Lol we have 2 completely opposite desires here.. I too hope they close the rest of main st through downtown, or at the very least extend the pedestrian only zone from Main Street square a few blocks north and south, so that the road is closed to at least greenstreet to the south, and the new central station to the north.. Though it would be cool to connect the pedestrian area all the way to the historic/market square district.

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Lol we have 2 completely opposite desires here.. I too hope they close the rest of main st through downtown, or at the very least extend the pedestrian only zone from Main Street square a few blocks north and south, so that the road is closed to at least greenstreet to the south, and the new central station to the north.. Though it would be cool to connect the pedestrian area all the way to the historic/market square district.

 

Yes, I think foot traffic and a friendly pedestrian environment would be a boon for all the new bars and restaurants coming in on the North end of Main Street.

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The big problem about closing the rest of Main Street is the train's still there, which at the very least will be a barricade to pedestrians (not to mention the crosswalks across the rest of the cross streets). Although if Main Street was closed after certain hours, that might help to your ideals.

 

Historically, though, the conversion to pedestrian malls have generally proven to be failures with very few exceptions. 

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How about the streets in downtown Dallas that are light rail only now? Though closing the street to vehicular traffic after certain hours could work too..

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How about the streets in downtown Dallas that are light rail only now? Though closing the street to vehicular traffic after certain hours could work too..

 

How about it?  Honest question.  Has it been successful in promoting pedestrian activity and street level retail on Pacific Ave and Bryan Street?

Edited by Houston19514

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They didn't cannibalize a north-south corridor (for one thing). Secondly, the existing sidewalks aren't particularly narrow or busy. If a friend and I can have a beer outside of The Flying Saucer and still have people walk by without squeezing past each other, then you don't need a wider sidewalk. Or even on a mid-day weekday (and I've seen both). If it's after hours that are the biggest thing, consider putting gates that block traffic between 10 pm and 5 am.

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How about it? Honest question. Has it been successful in promoting pedestrian activity and street level retail on Pacific Ave and Bryan Street?

I'm not sure, that's part of why I brought them up.. I'm curious to know how they've done. I believe they still have retail lining the corridors even though there is no vehicular traffic. Of course the main reason those streets were closed is because downtown Dallas streets are too narrow for both rail and vehicles so they didn't have an option. It's not like they expanded the sidewalks/outdoor cafe seating any through that area..

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I'm not sure, that's part of why I brought them up.. I'm curious to know how they've done. I believe they still have retail lining the corridors even though there is no vehicular traffic. Of course the main reason those streets were closed is because downtown Dallas streets are too narrow for both rail and vehicles so they didn't have an option. It's not like they expanded the sidewalks/outdoor cafe seating any through that area..

 

I just spent some time looking at it on Google Maps.  Looks pretty dismal.  It looks like the best that can be said for it is that it did not kill the couple of West End restaurants that front on it.  It is far from lined with retail.

Edited by Houston19514

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The big problem about closing the rest of Main Street is the train's still there

 

So we protect the pedestrians by putting cars in their way as well as the train? That seems odd. Seems to me reducing the vehicles to dodge makes them safer.

 

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They didn't cannibalize a north-south corridor (for one thing). Secondly, the existing sidewalks aren't particularly narrow or busy. If a friend and I can have a beer outside of The Flying Saucer and still have people walk by without squeezing past each other, then you don't need a wider sidewalk. Or even on a mid-day weekday (and I've seen both). If it's after hours that are the biggest thing, consider putting gates that block traffic between 10 pm and 5 am.

 

I've lived in the same building as Flying Saucer for 4 years. People do squeeze by, and that portion of sidewalk is particularly narrow after factoring in the Flying Saucer's patio and fence.

 

There is no need for cars on Main Street downtown. It's a lousy place to drive. You can never turn left. You can only travel several blocks before Main Street Square forces you to turn off onto another street. The roads parallel to Main are 4 lanes wide or better.

Edited by kylejack

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I just spent some time looking at it on Google Maps. Looks pretty dismal. It looks like the best that can be said for it is that it did not kill the couple of West End restaurants that front on it. It is far from lined with retail.

I'm not saying they are a pedestrian paradise, but I'd assume the reason they choose to put rail down those streets was because they weren't pedestrian paradises in the first place. If that's the case they certainly haven't been a total failure..

Imagine if a large segment of main was closed in downtown and turned into the shopping/pedestrian friendly district the city wants to create on Dallas.. (Though they did consider closing part of Dallas ave for the new district too).

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I've lived in the same building as Flying Saucer for 4 years. People do squeeze by, and that portion of sidewalk is particularly narrow after factoring in the Flying Saucer's patio.

 

Yes, but the foot traffic -at least from what I saw- isn't that heavy that it becomes a particular obstacle. 

 

So we protect the pedestrians by putting cars in their way as well as the train? That seems odd. Seems to me reducing the vehicles to dodge makes them safer.

 

A decade ago, construction cut the vehicular traffic from three lanes in each direction to one in each direction. That alone made more difference in the area becoming more "pedestrian friendly" than the improvements you're proposing. Besides, looking at the http://goo.gl/maps/HC9Q8'>current Google Street View shows planters in the median (though when I went downtown at the time, those had been torn up, so I dunno what's there now).

 

OK, here's another idea I had: we move the southbound rail to run down Travis Street. The old southbound rail becomes the new northbound rail, the old northbound rail becomes the new southbound vehicular lane, and the old southbound vehicular lane becomes a bike path. Alternately, the old median becomes the new northbound route while another road is designated as the southbound lane.

 

Is the "pedestrian mall" idea really the only thing at play here, or does anyone have any better ideas?

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Another idea that's cheap, helpful, and doesn't impede traffic flow: actually mark lanes as dual bike/vehicular lanes. link. What is the current speed limit of Main as it now, by the way?

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Yes, but the foot traffic -at least from what I saw- isn't that heavy that it becomes a particular obstacle.

 

I'd recommend checking it out at night.

 

Anyway, it's like saying that a bridge isn't needed in a particular area because nobody is swimming across the river. Building pedestrian-friendly environments will attract new pedestrians.

 

 

 

A decade ago, construction cut the vehicular traffic from three lanes in each direction to one in each direction. That alone made more difference in the area becoming more "pedestrian friendly" than the improvements you're proposing.

And so what? There's no need for Either/Or. We can do that then, and still do this now. Cutting the lanes to one is precisely what makes it not a great street to drive on. So simply redirect that traffic to other streets with better capacity.

 

 

 

Besides, looking at the current Google Street View shows planters in the median (though when I went downtown at the time, those had been torn up, so I dunno what's there now).

 

If you're talking about in front of Flying Saucer, all that has been taken out to build the transfer station.

 

 

 

OK, here's another idea I had: we move the southbound rail to run down Travis Street. The old southbound rail becomes the new northbound rail, the old northbound rail becomes the new southbound vehicular lane, and the old southbound vehicular lane becomes a bike path. Alternately, the old median becomes the new northbound route while another road is designated as the southbound lane.

Why is it advantageous to preserve motorist traffic on Main Street? What purpose does it serve? There are no garage entrances on Main Street. There is precious little street parking available. All of the properties are accessible from other streets. Driving on Main is a futile experience because of the aforementioned reasons.

 

 

 

Is the "pedestrian mall" idea really the only thing at play here, or does anyone have any better ideas?

They do not, because my idea is the best idea.

Edited by kylejack
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I still feel that the "temporary barricade" solution satiates the need for night pedestrian traffic, which is clearly the biggest problem. And for the daytime, we put signage for dual vehicular/bike lanes.

What is the current speed limit of Main as it now, by the way?

I never got an answer back on this one...

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Well I never got an answer as to why it is so crucial to maintain motorist traffic on Main Street. The speed limit in all of Downtown is 30.

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Well I never got an answer as to why it is so crucial to maintain motorist traffic on Main Street. The speed limit in all of Downtown is 30.

 

Because it makes it possible to be heading West on one street, turn right on Main, and get into the parking garage of the building that's just East of Main on the next block.

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Well I never got an answer as to why it is so crucial to maintain motorist traffic on Main Street. The speed limit in all of Downtown is 30.

If the main problem for pedestrians comes at night, then why not install gates? A&M does it. You can't drive on Ross from 6 am to 6 pm, except for delivery trucks, official, and emergency vehicles. It becomes a pedestrian mall during the day, and has the same curbs, drainage, and brick as Main Street in Houston does, coupled with a low speed limit.

My idea would do that for Main, except in reverse, closing it off at night.

Reopening Main Street Square and keeping the rest of Main open will, I believe, maintain good traffic flow while creating an interesting "complete street" that crosses through downtown. I also think that major roads named the same should connect at some point (even in the future). That's why there's disconnected segments of Kirby Road to the south, or a better example, Bellaire segments to the west. And they are extending. For your aesthetics, I doubt that the preceding argument would hold weight.

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Lower Main Street was blocked off to cars on Friday and Saturday nights for a number of years.  The nightlife that came in on Main for the baseball All Star game and the Super Bowl eventually dried up anyway, and the new stuff that's come in during the last year or two has done just fine without having the street blocked.

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There's another argument for not blocking it off: activity on Main will ebb and flow over the years, so there's no need to do some major reconstruction for blocking the roads that could dry up in future years.

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moo.. With the influx of new residents downtown the residential base there will be built up and able to sustain a scene like that much better than before when there were maybe 5,000 people living downtown. Especially if the locations and amount of retail/bars/cafés are developed appropriately..

Edited by cloud713

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There's another argument for not blocking it off: activity on Main will ebb and flow over the years, so there's no need to do some major reconstruction for blocking the roads that could dry up in future years.

 

Major reconstruction... You're proposing a project that will costs tens of millions of dollars, relocating a rail line to Travis.

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I wasn't actually behind it, as that's just my imagination running wild. Of course it wouldn't work realistically.

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Major reconstruction... You're proposing a project that will costs tens of millions of dollars, relocating a rail line to Travis.

More like 100 million.. All to replace a perfectly good rail line, and now disrupting flow to 2 major n/s thoroughfares and creating an additional pedestrian/vehicular hazard on Travis as well as the one on main. Seems counterproductive to me..

I really like the Main Street square with the fountains and landscaping. It would suck to see that paved over for a continuation of the road. I was just in st Augustine and they have an entire district of old downtown with no vehicular traffic and it's "streets" are lined with active bars/restaurants/retail..

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Main is fairly useless as a driving street now. The example of being able to use it to get around to a garage entrance on a perpendicular street is about the only reason to use it.

 

Calgary has a pedestrian mall street downtown, it has bars and restaurants and a few shops, but it's not like it is an obvious destination. 

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Why is it advantageous to preserve motorist traffic on Main Street? What purpose does it serve? There are no garage entrances on Main Street. There is precious little street parking available. All of the properties are accessible from other streets. Driving on Main is a futile experience because of the aforementioned reasons.

 

 

Preserving traffic flow can help keep a street "alive".  I have a hard time seeing the argument for making Main a pedestrian strip.  Mainly during the 1970s dozens of streets were converted to pedestrian shopping streets, and in almost every case the concept failed miserably as the streets became dead zones.  Many were eventually converted back to allow vehicle traffic.  Do we not learn from experience?  The likelihood of the concept really succeeding in downtown Houston is especially low, as there is already a large existing pedestrian infrastructure in the tunnel system.  A good part of Main Street is fronted by office buildings and parking garages, hardly conducive to pedestrian street traffic.  Is there any big advantage in having pedestrianized streets without a lot of street-level retail?

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Preserving traffic flow can help keep a street "alive".  I have a hard time seeing the argument for making Main a pedestrian strip.  Mainly during the 1970s dozens of streets were converted to pedestrian shopping streets, and in almost every case the concept failed miserably as the streets became dead zones. 

 

How many of those were already lousy pointless streets to drive on?

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The bulk of them were I think the traditional main shopping streets of the respective cities.  Pedestrianization was seen as a remedy to fight the urban blight that was prevalent then and to draw in additional shoppers.  The idea was suggested for Houston early on.  One proposal was to make most of Main Street an enclosed mall.  

 

Even if as currently configured Main is a pointless street to drive on, does that mean total pedestrianization is really a better outcome?  Are there steps that could be taken to make Main less pointless to drive?  Getting rid of Main Street "square" to allow through traffic would be a step in the right direction imo.

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I continue to use Main fairly regularly to get up to the Northside/Heights when I don't want to fool with the freeways.  It could be made even more functional by removing what Dallasites call City T***ies and allowing two lanes of traffic each way - as occurs in the Med Center without a whole bunch of verklemptitude, and as looks to be the coming thing on the green/purple lines on Capitol and Rusk.

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There is not enough room to create two lanes of traffic without removing some sidewalk. The current lane as it is is not very wide. Bicycle and car can't travel side by side. No interest in removing more sidewalk.

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i realize Houston probably doesnt have the tourist traffic of a city like St Augustine (well we do, its just much more spread out across the metro whereas St Aug is pretty confined), but considering almost all of their downtown streets have no vehicle access, the area does surprisingly well with maintaining pedestrian activity. they have a tram that goes around the popular destinations around the outside of the district where a few attractions like the fort are, and a few large parking lots, and there are 1 or 2 wider streets that cut through East/West, and the tram will come down one of those through the district to pick up, drop people off in the old downtown. the whole area seems to be quite successful at attracting a large pedestrian population.

i think we have enough garages lining Main to provide ample parking for visitors to park so they can walk around the pedestrian mall area, and we have the equivalent of St Augs tram (GreenLink, and the Houston City Tours bus.. all they have to do is add a stop somewhere in the pedestrian mall at Main using one of the east-west cut through streets) but we also have something St Augustine doesnt have.. light rail bringing train loads of people right through the heart of that pedestrian district.

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Also, do they allow open containers in downtown/on Main Street? i would guess probably not but they should reconsider that (at least for just the pedestrian mall portion) if they are going to close off more of Main for a pedestrian destination.

Edited by cloud713

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^^ I can't imagine any of those were originally vehicular access as they're ridiculously narrow. It looks like a tourist trap-type mall, in fact, what with those goofy facades and all (and it probably is)

One proposal was to make most of Main Street an enclosed mall.

They actually kind of did that with a small town in Ohio. The result was that the buildings retained private ownership, so the city had to maintain and operate the mall commons without collecting any revenue. They ended up bulldozing it around two decades later and rebuilt the streets as they were before the mall was added.

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^^ I can't imagine any of those were originally vehicular access as they're ridiculously narrow. It looks like a tourist trap-type mall, in fact, what with those goofy facades and all (and it probably is)

no they werent originally vehicular access as they didnt have cars back in the 1500s..  you do realize St Augustine is the oldest city in the country and that many of those "goofy facade" buildings are in fact original buildings hundreds of years old?

good call on Lincoln Rd in Miami, Urban. if it werent for the cluster it would cause on traffic, id say i could see a Lincoln Rd type center between Highland Village and the Galleria on Westheimer, with all the developments going up in between. but i think they could work something similar around Main in downtown with a slight shift in the area included in the downtown retail incentives program.

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no they werent originally vehicular access as they didnt have cars back in the 1500s..  you do realize St Augustine is the oldest city in the country and that many of those "goofy facade" buildings are in fact original buildings hundreds of years old?

The city is a popular travel destination for its Spanish colonial-era buildings as well as elite 19th-century architecture. The city's historic center is anchored by St. George Street, which is lined with historic houses from various periods. Most of these houses are reconstructions of buildings that had been burned or demolished over the years, though a few of them are original.

To be fair, St. Augustine is the only city of its kind like that. Perhaps I am jaded by many other cities and towns with similar developments (but entirely fake). The reputation of Florida having these types of tourists attractions (mostly due to Disney World) wrongfully gave the reputation that it too was fake.

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Not exactly. This is TIRZ money, so it's only property taxes paid on properties within the TIRZ. Depending on how specific "you guys" was meant to be. 

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Uh oh.. Don't let any of the Houston Palm tree haters see their plans for the area around the shopping district on Dallas...

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