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The concept of converting 3rd and 4th Streets in Davenport into two-way thoroughfares received a positive preliminary response from the City Council after the Downtown Davenport Partnership revealed the results of its latest study.

Executive Director Kyle Carter and consultant Doug Boyer, from the planning, landscape architect and development firm Edge, presented its findings at Tuesday's management update meeting in an effort to garner support from the council.

"As this conversation has evolved over the years, one of the things prior City Councils said was 'We want to see a more in-depth study of how this has worked in other cities, benefits, some actual mapping out of our streets and what they would look like," Carter said.

Under latest proposal, Carter said the idea would be to convert 3rd and 4th streets into two-ways between Marquette Street and the Quad-City Times building, where the two streets connect with River Drive.

The concept of bringing back two-way streets is not new, having previously been discussed informally during a work session two years. Davenport in Motion, the city's former multi-modal transportation plan, called for such a development. Carter said a previous proposal involved converting the streets out to Telegraph Road and included roundabouts, which killed the idea in addition to the high costs.

From a cost perspective, Carter said initial estimates indicated the venture would cost between $1.2 and $1.5 million, though a hard number would require additional input from public works. Those costs would primarily be for signalization and painting.

During the presentation, Carter and Boyer identified five major points for considering the conversion:

  • There is no traffic crisis that mandates streets maintain one way.
  • Improves safety for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers and quality of life for residents
  • Economic benefits
  • Makes downtown more visitor-friendly
  • Success of other cities

From an economic perspective, Carter said conversations he's had with developers indicate a preference for two-way streets, including by the YMCA site.

"We have had developers say literally that they would not build on that site unless we change this," Carter said.

Two-way street would also benefit downtown businesses by making retail storefronts more visible and accessible to customers.

In researching other cities that have gone through similar plans, Boyer referenced Columbus, Ohio, Fargo, North Dakota, and Louisville, Kentucky, as examples which have prospered.

Alderman Kyle Gripp, at large, testified to the impact on Columbus, which he said used to be a desolate place with cars zooming through and instead attracts people downtown where they spend their money.

In the case of Fargo, Boyer said residents were concerned with the confusion construction would cause, but afterwards, there was unanimous positive feedback from the public.

Within Iowa, Des Moines is currently looking into the same proposal while Cedar Rapids is in the process of conversion. Carter said Muscatine has finished its two-way street conversion project.

Gripp said he had previously been indifferent to the proposal until he began researching it and learning about the paradigm that roads transport people and streets build wealth.

"This is something we need to start doing more of, which is start building our city for people rather than for cars," Gripp said. "The best place is to start downtown where the people are."

In representing both downtown residents and businesses, Carter said separate meetings were held and received favorable responses.

Representatives from the YMCA, Hotel Blackhawk, Me and Billy and Carriage House were present to lend their support for the proposal.

With aldermen asking for more research including a more firm cost estimate, City Administrator Corri Spiegel said city staff could work on the white paper and present it at the council's goal-setting session to determine if it was something it would like to pursue.