Kokomo — Main and Union streets downtown will be transformed into two-way, pedestrian and bicycle friendly thoroughfares this year, Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight announced in a public meeting Thursday.
“You go to older cities, and you see a lot of one-way streets,” Goodnight said. “You go to newer cities, and you don’t see a lot of them.”
Outlining plans to narrow the traffic lanes along Main Street to make way for the addition of bicycle lanes and concrete, curbside “stormwater planters,” Goodnight said keeping Main and Union as one-way streets no longer makes sense.
Last year, the city converted 10 blocks of Walnut and Sycamore streets to two-way traffic in the core downtown area.
The plan Goodnight presented Thursday would make Main and Union two-way for a total of 44 blocks, from Monroe Street north of downtown, 22 blocks south to Defenbaugh Street.
“We can all tell stories; I’ve been in big cities where you see some place you need to get to, and you just can’t get there from here. You need to turn here, and turn there, and then you blow by a turn and you can’t get back there,” he said.
At Main Street and Markland Avenue, an area home to a number of locally owned businesses, the one-way traffic designation is a deterrent to customers, he said.
People traveling north on Union might see the businesses on Main Street and decide to cut over along Harrison Street, “but then if you can’t find a parking spot you’re back to the light at Markland, and you’re not going to do that more than once or twice,” he said.
Connecting the core downtown area — which has the Wildcat Creek as its southern boundary — with the Markland and Main area, and to areas further to the southeast, will be the focus of the overall plan, city engineer Carey Stranahan said.