Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Traffic As Far As The Eye Could See

On Monday, opponents of the MX Zone change which will bring high-traffic, high-volume restaurants and retail to Washington Street and South Main Street in the form of strip malls, gathered on the corners of Washington and High Streets to protest the change.

The No Strip Mall/No Wrecking Ball flash mob protest drew neighbors and community members of all ages.

To demonstrate the traffic implications of strip mall development on Washington Street the protestors pushed the "Walk" button on every traffic light cycle for one hour, and crossed the streets holding colorful signs.

The result was a monumental traffic backup that had cars backed up, in traffic, to Main, and onto Main, and as far West as Jackson Street.  Several cars, frustrated with the backup, ran red lights despite the protestors in the street.

The backup clearly illustrated the complaint of opponents to the zone change, that strip mall development on Washington and South Main will cause traffic gridlock and bring dangerous safety hazards to these streets.


Conshr said...

I don't wholeheartly agree with this article. Pushing the walk button is everyone's right. Most often it's the people who don't hit the button that cause the distress in this area. I do agree that traffic will pick up - for about 3 months, then it's all back to normal for the area. Just like when Wes students return, crazy for a few weeks, then normal. Some residents of Middletown need to decide if growth of the city and tax base is valuble enough for the aggravation of traffic. I would prefer lower property taxes - myself. I'm still wondering how this reporter is crossing Washington St with South Main Street, maybe check out the map a little closer...

Jen Alexander said...

Dear Conshr,

Part of my opposition to this zone change is that I think it will raise taxes, not lower them. That's because it will lower the value of Main Street to be surrounded by new commercial land. I also think it will make the neighborhoods that border these developments more unstable, and that has a lot of costs to the city.

There is other land, just a few blocks away, which could legally be redeveloped for the uses that are proposed by the developer. That would increase the value of those areas, which are currently blighted.

The proposed zone change does affect South Main Street - from the Hospital area to Ace Hardware. It also affects two sections of Washington Street and part of Newfield Street.

-Jen Alexander

Conshr said...

Thank you Jen for the clarification.

Casual Observer said...

Opinions are plentiful, but no one has offered any actual evidence that the text change and possible Landino project will increase traffic or have a negative impact on city tax revenue. I would suggest that the traffic created by the additional uses isn't measurably different than the traffic which would be generated by uses already approved for these properties, especially compared to the high traffic count there. Also, Rt. 66 is a state arterial highway which is meant to carry large volumes of traffic. I doubt that it is anywhere near its capacity. And traffic for a downtown is a good thing. Show me a downtown with no traffic problems and I'll show you a dead downtown.

Regarding tax revenue, the buildings proposed will pay vastly more taxes than the properties pay now, and to my knowledge they have not asked for a tax abatement. So that whole premise is unfounded. And more new (tasteful) development downtown will only raise all the property values, not the opposite. Picture the values without the new CHC, Harding's new building, the police station and the Inn. They all help to make downtown more robust and valuable.