More Cars on Downtown Mall?

By: Marcus Washington
By: Marcus Washington

January 10, 2006

For drivers wanting to cross the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville, you only have one option. That is why the Downtown Business Association along with others are pushing to add another car crossing.

The Charlottesville Planning Commission is scheduled to discuss the possibility of making 5th Street available to drive through the Downtown Mall. While some may be looking forward to this, others will be upset.

Charlottesville's Downtown Mall has become a place where people enjoy nice days of shopping, eating or just walking their dogs. That's just a few of the pastimes that bring a lot of foot traffic to the mall, but if the persistence of the Downtown Business Association pays off, pedestrians won't be alone.

In addition to 2nd St. being used as a crossing for cars on the Downtown Mall, talks of opening 5th St. or 4th St. to vehicles are on the table and some folks are just saying no to the idea.

"It's really really nice to just be able to walk around here and not worry about anything else," said Paige Bowelle of Charlottesville. "I know when I'm walking with my dog or even just with friends I'm just use to walking in a group and not having to worry about it at all."

Many people who frequently visit the Downtown Mall say Paige isn't alone. Those who work on the Downtown Mall say adding an additional crossing would be great for business.

"Our customers will say, you've become an island you know we just keep driving around you, driving around you. Well, if that becomes a hindrance to business, then we lose customers, we lose tax base, we lose a lot of those things," said Mary Loose Devine, who works on the Downtown Mall. "So if our customers are saying we need access, then I think that's what we need to provide."

Many Downtown business owners say the support adding another street crossing, but there are still some opposed to the idea.

The Charlottesville Planning Commission is scheduled revisit this issue Tuesday, January 10 at 6:30 p.m. in the city council chambers.

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