2012 Year in Review: Downtown Goes Other Way
SEP 20 • While the rest of the world fretted about the looming end of the Mayan long-count calendar, some Eau Claire residents worried about another kind of apocalypse: the conversion of Barstow Street and Graham Avenue in downtown Eau Claire to two-way traffic on Sept. 20. The City Council had approved the switcheroo way back in May 2011, but as the changeover approached criticism of the impending carmageddon increased. Some residents complained that the switch would be confusing and dangerous for drivers, who’d been driving one-way downtown for decades, while some businesses worried that deliveries would be thwarted or that delivery vehicles would block traffic. City officials who supported the switch believed it would increase traffic (and thus business), make navigation clearer for out-of-town visitors, reduce speeds, and expose drivers to the beauty of the other side of downtown facades. The fateful day came and went with -- as intrepid V1 correspondent Thom Fountain reported in a YouTube video that day -- “no visible signs of chaos.” Except for a handful of parking complaints and one minor collision, the report held true and two-way traffic quickly became the norm. Score one for thoughtful transportation planning.