calming study

These pedestrian monitors erected over the summer were used as part of a Main Street calming study in Uptown Greenwood.

Imagine a Main Street through Uptown Greenwood that boasted even more shared-use opportunities for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.

For investments, both modest and ambitious, city leaders can see an even more dramatic transformation of the corridor, which serves as Uptown Greenwood’s backbone.

That’s according to a new analysis by Traffic Planning and Design Inc., which spent months working with a focus group to develop recommendations that could find their way into an updated City Center Master Plan.

“Greenwood has done quite a bit, and so there’s not a lot of short-term to do. Most of the low-hanging fruit has been picked,” Rachael Bronson, a transportation specialist with the firm, told the City Council earlier this month. “Greenwood has done a lot to address and create more community around Main Street. Of course, the medians create a park-like atmosphere and the trees help calm traffic, so there’s been a good bit of work done to get to the goals we’re trying to get to.”

Among the changes city leaders could make:

  • $40,000 to narrow travel lanes in excess of 13 feet to between 10 and 11 feet, with restriping.
  • $20,000 for the installation of speed-control signs.
  • In the longterm, allocating up to $12 million for corridor-wide signal upgrades, creation of roundabouts and even a new road to ease traffic off Main Street.

Much of the data was gleaned through cooperation with the state Department of Transportation and on-the-ground surveying, conducted Aug. 29 through Sept. 4.

Though all of the study’s suggestions remain conceptual at this point, City Manager Julie Wilkie said state officials have been strong partners with Greenwood. A DOT representative was included in the focus group.

“We have a very good working relationship with the DOT. That was their idea, actually, to have that dedicated pedestrian phase at that Maxwell and Main light, so they’re fully amenable to things that we ask them to do,” Wilkie said.

None of these projects are currently in the works, and many would likely require a combination of funding mechanisms to make them a reality, from state hospitality tax dollars to local bond measures and federal transportation grants.

“The purpose of this project is really to identify transportation and multimodal opportunities on Main Street, and big piece of it is to inform the forthcoming City Center Master Plan,” Bronson said. “There certainly are some large funding implications to this, but the bottom line is, you have a regional route that runs through the heart of your Main Street, so it’s inherently complicated.”

City Councilwoman Niki Hutto said officials have worked to create a safe environment for non-drivers.

“I walk all the downtown, all the time. Uptown until the last 10 years was not pedestrian-friendly at all, but I find the traffic is really not that bad, especially in your side streets,” she said.

Wilkie said the unique complexion of Main Street – which is a four-lane federal highway – creates planning issues that other communities aren’t facing.

“Those types of roadways don’t lend sometimes to pedestrian. If you’re traveling on Maxwell or Court, it feels much more pedestrian-friendly. And I think the challenge that they (Traffic Planning and Design) were faced with was, ‘How do you make a four-lane highway friendly?’ when that’s really not the nature. It’s to move traffic,” she said.

Contact staff writer Adam Benson at 864-943-5650 or on Twitter @ABensonIJ.