Downtown Mall Could See More Cars

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli

November 15, 2005

There is only one way to cross the downtown mall by car, but there may be a new through-way.

The Charlottesville Planning Commission and City Council heard from the community about opening up a road for vehicles through the downtown mall. They voted to revisit the issue at a later meeting.

But they did learn that a study recommends 5th Street be open southbound, which would be from Market Street towards Water Street. This is the opposite direction traffic flows on 2nd Street. The Commission is also looking at opening 4th Street instead.

About 15 people spoke on the issue. Most were business leaders for opening the through-way, and some residents were against.

"When it says S-T-O-P at the downtown mall a lot of people don't. So I think cross traffic on the mall is dangerous and I think it would be too late to wait for a fatality to prove that point," said Richard Berman, who lives near the downtown mall.

"We certainly are not asking for a new crossing of the mall. We are asking for a replacement crossing. One cross street to replace the two that were taken away," said Bob Stroh of the Downtown Business Association of Charlottesville.

Businesses argue it will give them visibility and customers convenience, while opponents say it will ruin the 'pedestrian feel.'

From the discussion afterwards, at least one member of the planning commission said she was leaning towards opening the street, but all decided they need more information.

Proponents of the plan say it will also help parking by directing them from the Market Street garage to the one on Water Street more easily.

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