Last week, dozens of interested Savannahians gathered at the Coastal Georgia Center for the presentation of the almost-final design plans for Broughton, Bay and River streets. The meeting marked an important milestone in the ongoing work of the Florida-based landscape architecture firm EDSA.
At the end of the meeting, Mayor Eddie DeLoach reminded attendees that the city does not have full funding for the entirety of the new streetscape plans. He emphasized that money exists for the Broughton Street plans, which the city would prioritize since it would have the most impact on residents.
I still have some lingering questions and significant reservations about EDSA’s plans for Bay and River streets, but I’ll confine this column to Broughton Street. I’m enthusiastic about the plans for Broughton, which seemed to be well-received by the audience at last week’s presentation.
As outlined by EDSA’s Kona Gray, who has led all the public sessions about the project so far, the revamped Broughton Street should enhance the experience for pedestrians, give new opportunities for businesses, have no impact on vehicular travel and adequately serve the needs of cyclists, although some might disagree with that final point.
There was considerable discussion in the meetings about the bicycling infrastructure needs on all three streets, but the only substantive addition to Broughton Street will be additional bicycle parking.
As someone who frequently bicycles downtown, I don’t feel the need to have a bike lanes on Broughton Street because the automobile traffic generally moves quite slowly, at least during the day. Cyclists can generally just ride in the same lane as the cars.
EDSA’s plans for Broughton will include a slight narrowing of the travel lanes and a slight expansion of the sidewalk. At the intersections, we’ll eventually have bumpouts with bioswales — i.e., extended curbs with landscape elements for funneling water to the street’s new trees.
The bumpouts will make it easier to cross the street, and we will also get brick crosswalks and other design elements that should be both attractive and functional.
The blocks of Broughton between Drayton and Whitaker streets will be designed so that they could easily be converted to a “festival street.” The key intersection of Bull and Broughton will have an inlaid compass rose.
Using a grant awarded years ago, the City of Savannah is currently planting controversial Bosque Elms along Broughton Street, but those will be moved or simply removed as the full design is implemented, probably in 2018.
In upcoming columns, I’ll look in more detail at EDSA’s plans for Bay and River streets, which include potentially controversial and expensive elements such as outdoor escalators leading to the river.
City Talk appears every Sunday and Tuesday. Bill Dawers can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org. Send mail to 10 E. 32nd St., Savannah, Ga. 31401.