Road construction in 2011 spurred the idea of narrowing part of Davenport’s Harrison Street from four lanes to two to provide on-street parking, which could be available sometime this summer.
Members of the Harrison Hilltop Campus Village noticed when the street south of Locust Street was resurfaced in 2011, it didn’t seem to cause any serious traffic headaches when the number of lanes was reduced. Businesses saw the possibility of slowing traffic and gaining customers.
“We started the advocacy for that the same time the city of Davenport did its work,” Harrison Hilltop director Scott Tunnicliff said. “We noticed there really wasn’t an obstruction to two-lane traffic.
“Those I’ve talked to have said we need the parking. It will heighten the visibility of small businesses because the traffic will be slower and strengthen the neighborhood.”
On-street parking between West 5th and 18th streets is expected to return to Harrison Street this summer. Last week, the Davenport City Council approved a request to the Iowa Department of Transportation asking for the change on the state route from four lanes to two lanes. From 3 a.m. to
9 a.m., the route would be three lanes to accommodate morning commuters. The easternmost lane always would be parking.
With Department of Transportation permission, the changes are expected to be made in June.
Wendi Laake opened Eclectic, a home furnishing shop, in November. She says she gets two questions: “Where do you get your stuff?” and “Where can I park next time?” She is excited about the aldermen’s decision.
“I’m so glad the city council has taken this step, and hopefully, the state will approve it,” she said. “I think it will be really nice if the traffic slows and gives it more of a neighborhood feel.”
Julie Martens, co-owner of Greatest Grains, has a parking lot on the west side of the building at 1600 N. Harrison St., so the parking change likely won’t affect her business.
Greatest Grains has been at its current location for
“I’m curious to see if Harrison can handle two lanes or if it gets backed up,” she said.
Iowa Department of Transportation traffic counts show a decline over more than 10 years. In 1998, 14,800 vehicles passed daily through the 1800 block of Harrison Street. By 2010, that number dropped to 12,500 vehicles.
Martens said she understands why the change is needed.
“We need some retail business up here,” she said. “That is what is going to help the area survive.
“With more parking, maybe it will attract more businesses. I think my customers will help support other businesses on the hilltop.”
On the east side of Harrison Street, Larry Wiese, who owns Superstars and Superheroes, meets the traffic change with a shrug. His comic book shop has a product that caters to specific and loyal customers. He has been at 1527 Harrison St. for 30 years.
“I’m not totally convinced it will help business,” he said. “The people who collect comics know how to find you.”
Rock Eddleman, whose Rock’s Anchor Grill has been at 1526 N. Harrison St. for four years, said he would have liked to have offered more input. He would close off one block of 16th Street west of Harrison Street and make it a parking lot.
“I don’t think it is such a bad idea,” he said of Harrison Street being two lanes. “I worry about cars getting hit. Simplicity would’ve been to do it on one side and be done with it.”
The city will do some educating and put up signs leading up to the change, Public Works traffic engineer Gary Statz said.
Signs will be highly visible.
“We’ll definitely have to educate the public before it gets implemented,” he said.