Main Street plan calls for return to vibrancy

 

Improvements to Main Street — to return vibrancy and create a destination from Market Street to Route 13 – will start the fall of 2015 and be completed in three phrases.

Phase II, from Division Street to Route 13, will be first, because it involves the longest section, followed by Phase I on the west end from Market Street to Division Street and Phase III, the Downtown Plaza.

Phase II will take about one year to finish at a cost originally estimated at $1.9 million, although the amount could change, said Steve Torgerson, senior landscaping architect for A. Morton Thomas & Associates, Inc., based in Rockville.

He and Kathy Walsh, associate for transportation at the company, presented an overview of the project July 23 at the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce. See concept drawings at www.ci.salisbury.md.us.

The cost for the entire project hasn’t yet been estimated, but goals are clear, said Walsh, who identified them as revitalizing the Main Street corridor and linking pedestrians to the waterfront.

The plan is for the Plaza to remain a one-way street, but traffic will flow toward town, instead of away, from town.

Preliminary geotechnical work was scheduled for this week on East Main Street and West Main Street, between West Market Street and Route 13. East Main Street, West Main Street, and Division Street will remain open.

Water mains and sewer drains will be replaced or improved, traffic control at Division Street will be upgraded, streets will be landscaped and sidewalks brought up to par, Walsh said.

Once completed, the improved corridor will feature travel lanes and possibly bike lanes, 7-foot-wide sidewalks, on-street parking, landscaping and cafe space.

Torgerson said a pedestrian walkway will be created, as well as safe spots for crossing the street.

“Trees are so important to creating a beautiful streetscape. They create rhythm. We can use structural soils under the sidewalk to allow more walking space,” he explained.

Multi-pay parking stations, with one per block, are being considered to allow space for benches, and there will be decorative street signs and lamp posts.

“Lighting is important because it makes nightlife possible. Without lighting people won’t want to come in the evening,” he said.

Fountains can enliven the area, he said, showing slides of various types, including streams of shooting water that come on in the evening.

“People come to see it. Kids can run through it and family is likely to stay downtown for dinner or at least for a drink. When you turn these off, you still have plaza space, so it’s flexible,” he said.

Salisbury City Council President Jake Day said city council members were told attractive elements of the Plaza would be lost if it had two-way traffic, but a man in the audience said he owns a business downtown and he’d like to see the Plaza “become a true Main Street, because that is what really works.”

Another man worried the Plaza will become a parking lot.

Walsh said it will be more symmetrical and linear, remain one-way and be beautified with planters repositioned for space efficiency. She estimated five or six parking spaces will be added.

“It is going to be a road,” Torgerson said. “We can get two-way in there but you won’t have a place to park your car if we do.”

Day asked about protecting Salisbury’s oldest trees, and Torgerson said all trees will be examined by an urban forester.

“We do not want to take trees out that are successful on your Main Street, but if it looks like will die in five years, we will,” he said.

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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