Changes to downtown Wichita streets in the works


WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The City of Wichita is working to develop conceptual designs for downtown streets with the goal of making the area more driveable, walkable and liveable.

“It will really be taking the recommendations in the downtown master plan and taking it kind of to the next level, saying OK, if we lay out this street this way, what happens to the streets next to it? What happens to the traffic in this area and how can we really help to achieve the goals out of the downtown master plan?” explained City of Wichita Interim Director of Transit Scott Wadle.

The Wichita Metropolitan Area Planning Organization (WAMPO) recently awarded the City of Wichita $350,000 to begin working on the conceptual designs through its 2017 Planning Walkable Places Program.

Right now, city officials said they are at the very beginning stages of the project which includes research and recommendations.

“This is an opportunity to take the next step with the plan and pencil some things out and see what exactly works well for Wichita,” Wadle said.

Wadle said the public has voiced a need for change in the downtown area, specifically when it comes to traffic.

“In the downtown master plan there were recommendations for the one-way streets and some of them converting to two way, so we will be able to have a conversation about that and whether it’s appropriate,” Wadle said.

Wadle said there are pros and cons to both one-way streets and two-way streets. He said changes will depend on safety, overall function and traffic flow.

“There are trade offs to each of these. There’s not one that is going to provide all the best advantages. It’s really trade offs,” Wadle said.

For example, Wadle said one-way streets often help with traffic flow, but the streets can also become more dangerous due to speed. As for two-way streets, he said they help with mobility, but also have downsides.

“You can lose compacity because you’re changing lanes, the amount of lanes that go in a particular direction,” he said.

Wadle said overall the goal is to make downtown more of a connected core for future development.

The city will provide about 20 percent of the funding for the project. Public input meetings could begin in the next few months.

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