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A temporary demonstration of a pedestrian-friendly street represents the potential future of some areas of the city.
Provided by city of Springfield
A temporary demonstration of a pedestrian-friendly street represents the potential future of some areas of the city.

City, Better Block SGF demonstrate placemaking idea downtown

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Last edited 12:37 p.m., Oct. 15, 2021

The city of Springfield and Better Block SGF are asking the public to take a visionary look at the visitor experience downtown with a kickoff event this evening on South Avenue between McDaniel and Walnut streets.

The South Avenue placemaking demonstration, running through Oct. 24, will transform the street with traffic barriers, cones and signage, as well as a temporary crosswalk mid-block. There also will be reduced on-street parking and narrowing of driving lanes to calm traffic.

The goal is to find out how wider sidewalks, outdoor dining, landscaping and art installations might improve the experience of pedestrians. The city will collect public feedback on the installation.

Kristen Milam, a Springfield spokesperson, said the municipality will be testing out several ideas that may be used downtown or in other locations throughout the city.

“We’re looking a pedestrian plaza or boulevard, and that’s something we’ve looked at in various areas of downtown,” she said.

She added the idea is not one that is specifically being considered for South Avenue, which she called a major traffic area, but the pedestrian-friendly measures could be put in place elsewhere.

Started in 2020 to address COVID-19 concerns, Better Block SGF’s purpose is upgrading urban spaces that are viewed as underused or inactive. The organization began by adding outdoor seating to downtown restaurants, such as Nonna’s Italian Café and Druff’s.

Better Block SGF is a volunteer organization that works through donations.

A project that may benefit from the public feedback of the downtown placemaking demonstration is the Grant Avenue Parkway. Milam added that for that project, the city examined closing off Mill Street north of the Jordan Valley Park, where a Jordan Creek daylighting program will revivify the existing amenity.

“What would it look like to close that area off to just pedestrians?” she asked. “That’s definitely something we’re looking at in different areas, and the feedback that we get from this will be instrumental.”

For today’s kickoff event, set for 5-8 p.m., the demonstration area of South Avenue will be fully closed to motorists.

Oct. 16-24, South Avenue will be open to two-way traffic with reduced on-street parking.

The road again will be fully closed 7-9 a.m. Oct. 25 for de-installation of the demonstration elements, and there again will be a detour.

The road will fully reopen at 9 a.m. Oct. 25.

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