That’s what Mayor Steve Tumlin proposed last week. He envisions turning those streets into a traffic “circle,” albeit one with four 90-degree angles.
“I personally think (a roundabout) can work on the Square and give us the old-time feel,” Tumlin said told the MDJ.
At present, the Square is bounded by a one-way street running north, a one-way street running south, and two streets running both east and west. As anyone who’s watched traffic downtown knows, the present configuration can take some getting used to and is a sure bet to stump many out-of-town drivers. And as those who’ve driven through downtown also know, it’s not an arrangement guaranteed to move traffic swiftly and seamlessly.
The present traffic pattern is not etched in stone. As Tumlin recalled, all of the streets around the Square were one-way when he was a child in the 1950s. And old photographs of downtown show various streets at various times with traffic flows opposite of today’s directions.
Tumlin quickly picked up the support of Kee Carlisle, who chairs the city’s Vision 20/20 Committee, the task of which it is to improve the look and functionality of downtown. Carlisle would couple Tumlin’s proposal with an effort to widen the sidewalk on the north side of the Square to make more room for al fresco dining at the Square’s many eateries.
Unfortunately for Tumlin, support for his proposal seems to start and end with Carlisle, according to the story.
“I think it is a great idea, but I am one person,” said Carlisle. The committee’s other 13 members were not as enthused, he said. At least, not yet, although that could well change as they learn more about the idea. They’re slated to discuss it again at their meeting on Monday.
Though this is not meant as an endorsement of Tumlin’s proposal, it is an idea worth discussing. If there is a more logical and more coherent way — and less confusing way — of moving traffic through downtown, it makes sense to try to find it.