Opposition to the City’s plan to install sidewalks on the northern end of Williams Street — between Division and 7th Streets — drew some 20 local business-people to a public hearing on the project on Friday.
The hearing, the third called by the Dept. of Parking and Traffic on this proposal, concerned revisions in the City’s plan that was requested by citizens at previous hearings. It was dominated by opponents to the project, whose position was stated by one participant: “The street, as it is, works. The area has not changed.”
Specific objections hinged on the belief that there is no appreciable amount of foot traffic in the neighborhood, that putting sidewalks into an inherently dangerous area (because of heavy truck traffic) is inviting pedestrians (and trouble) and that truck access would be impeded to the point that some businesses would not be able to function.
In response, Steven Price, Acting Executive Director of the Dept. of Parking and Traffic, and representatives of the department’s Traffic Engineering Division explained the legal basis for the City’s position on the project. They also disputed claims that the foot traffic did not warrant any changes.
Price cited the City’s concern with liability in the event of an accident involving a pedestrian forced to walk into the street around parked trucks and stated it is the City’s practice to install sidewalks where none exist on a street being paved or repaved.
“The area is changing”, stated Price.
The World Gym, College of Arts and Crafts, Metronome Ballroom and the cafes and retail establishments at the corner of 6th and Williams Streets all have contributed to increased pedestrian traffic, he said.