Mixed reaction to suggestion of two-way Court Street traffic

A survey of Court Street retailers Saturday revealed mixed reactions to recommendation by a city consultant to allow two-way traffic on the downtown street.

Most retailers were cool to the idea and some wanted more information before settling on a firm position on the issue.

The suggestion of two-way traffic on Court Street was made Thursday night during a presentation at City Hall by Mike Hurlbert, senior project manager for the Downtown Revitalization and Economic Assistance for Missouri (DREAM) program.

Hurlbert said studies show one-way streets reduce retail sales and inhibit growth of downtown areas. Visitors must make several turns to access some streets, he said, and often cannot find what they are seeking. He said none of the other Missouri cities participating in the DREAM program has one-way streets downtown.

All of the retailers expressed dissatisfaction Saturday with the city’s earlier effort to provide delivery access from Nichols Street to the rear of buildings facing Court Street.

They complained that the driveway to the rear of Court Street businesses is too narrow and delivery trucks cannot get through.

Sharon Vaught, owner of Cornerstone Antiques, said “I don’t see how we could continue getting deliveries with two-way streets. Delivery trucks can’t get through the narrow access alley the city built at the back of our business. When the city reworked the Nichols Street parking lot, they made the alley too narrow for big delivery trucks. They can’t make the turn. Half of the time the alley is blocked by someone parked in it.”

Vaught said her son owns Beks Restaurant. “All of his deliveries must come through his front door. The big trucks can’t make it through in the back. A two-way street on Court Street just won’t work,” she said.

Vaught said she has been closing the store two days a week now because of a lack of business.

Diane Hamilton, who works at Red Cross Pharmacy, said “in my personal opinion and not speaking for the pharmacy I am not sure if converting the street to two-way traffic would increase retail sales.”

She noted one safety hazard that now occurs with one-way traffic. “We see people driving the wrong way up the street all the time. Some people apparently believe it already is a two-way street,” she said.

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