For decades, Westporters heading to the Post Road from Main Street have used the Parker Harding Plaza cut-through.
Avoiding the twisting, traffic-filled turns on Avery Place and Elm Street to reach Myrtle Avenue and Church Lane, we zip along a one-way path by the river, emerging at the light with Starbucks on the left.
Now — in a proposal from the Downtown Plan Implementation Committee — the cut-through would be eliminated.
The “cut-through” (left) and adjacent parking spots, in a screenshot from the Downtown Plan Implementation Committee website.
Rumors are swirling throughout town. Residents warn of chaos, as cars stack up on Avery, Elm, Myrtle and Church Lane (when it’s not closed for dining and music).
But that’s only part of the plan.
In the DPIC plan, we can still get to the Post Road. We’ll just do it differently: via 2-way traffic closer to the backs of the Main Street stores.
The parking lot will be reconfigured, Both lanes of traffic will be normal width, unlike the current narrow, snaking paths.
The Parker Harding Plaza plan. Note the 2-way traffic through the reconfigured lot; the 1 entrance and 2 lanes of exits (far right), and the “turnaround” loop near Gorham Island (left). Click on or hover over to enlarge.
DPIC chair Randy Herbertson says that the new plan was created after public input favored greater riverfront access for pedestrians.
Moving traffic away from the river will also ease frequent downtown flooding, by replacing hard surfaces with grass and a rain garden.
The plan followed a professional traffic study — done last September, Herbertson says, when Church Lane was closed.
Wide 2-way lanes will eliminate the need to squeeze past parked cars. (Photo/Susan Garment)
Reconfiguring Parker Harding will result in the loss of parking spaces. However, Herbertson says, that would happen no matter what plan was utilized. Zoning regulations adopted since the last reconfiguration mandate fewer spots.
“If the lot were re-striped today, we’d lose 47 spaces because of zoning regulations,” he says. “Under the current plan, we’d lose 44. And if we change a few of those to compact-only, we hope to gain 5 to 10 more.”
He notes that more spots will be available too when the Jesup and Imperial Avenue lots are re-striped.
Meanwhile, back at Parker Harding, Herbertson says that a new turnaround near Gorham Island will help with traffic flow.
And, he adds, “With 2-lane traffic, you won’t always be stuck behind one car waiting for one driver to pull out. If no one is coming from the other direction, you can just go around them.”
On your way to or from the Post Road.
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