Restricting Main Street Traffic

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, AR(KAIT) -In cities across America, downtown areas have become Mecca for entertainment with stores and restaurants.

And Jonesboro is no exception.

The city is rebuilding its downtown area, but cars on Main street are putting the brakes on foot traffic.

First off let me tell you what the big picture is going to be on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights beginning September 24.

The main flow of traffic will be blocked at Washington.

If you want to just pass through you will have to go around on Church or Madison.

If you are going downtown to eat or shop you still will be able to access Main street parking by turning onto Main from a side street.

Hopefully this will slow the fast flow of traffic and make it safer for walking.

With the cars whizzing by on Main Street, Phyllis Burkett and I sat down to chat about the upcoming changes. Burkett says it will be safer.

"Make it a little more pedestrian friendly. I think you'll notice right now how quickly traffic is going on the street in spite of the 25 mile per hour speed limit. "

With the city's approval this new plan will operate on these hours.

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, Main will be closed from 7 PM until 2 am the following morning.

Now they are not going to close Main street completely down. They're going to block it off on Washington. But you're still going to be able to turn on Main street from side streets like Huntington and park in front of the restaurants and stores that are downtown.

The traffic restriction is an effort to increase foot traffic for restaurants and retailers.

Robbin Taber is the new owner of the Two Sisters Coffee and Deli shop.

Taber says she would consider staying open later.

"Maybe after a fine dinner at one of our other establishments people would like to stop in for a good specialty coffee."

Taber says in her experience retail stores bring in the people.

"Anything that will bring customers down to this area would be I believe retail businesses."

And in most cases that's how it works.

Burkett, "In our case we've gone exactly the opposite and created more restaurants than we actually have retail."

The lack of and longevity of downtown retailers is still an issue.

Bob Hester says he is dubious of the project, "Businesses that have come and stayed 6 months or a year and gone in that time. You look around, Where are your shops?"

It will be an experiment in change for the city.

Catherine Risch is a transplant from England. She has seen open streets like this in London where people come to sell and entertain those people on foot. She is in favor of the project.

"I think it would be very nice to have an open area just for people to walk."

Burkett, "Kind of meet and see people not be one of those come and go places."

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