Corridors of opportunity Dana Gillette, P.E. Principal Associate, Erdman Anthony Royal Palm Beach, Florida Presenter, 2014 APWA Congress ateway corridors say a lot about a community. Are they vibrant, filled with activity and commerce with window-shopping pedestrians? Or do they present a forlorn, to-be-avoided atmosphere? Many gateway corridors are critical for traffic flow—often heavy—yet are lined with businesses and older residences and face a slow decline. But this can be reversed. Routine roadway repaving projects, particularly on minor arterial gateway roadways leading to downtowns, present an opportunity to revitalize an entire corridor. While going beyond a simple repaving may be more expensive, the aesthetic rejuvenation, livability, improved commerce, higher tax basis,
and positive economic impacts far outweigh the higher costs. An example of a corridor redevelopment that led to a renewal is Atlantic Avenue, a minor arterial that serves as a gateway to downtown Delray Beach, Florida. It ends at the Atlantic Ocean and is lined with shopping, cultural destinations, and historic buildings. Before the project, visitors exiting I-95 on the way to downtown or the beach passed crumbling pavement; narrow, poorly repaired non-ADA-compliant sidewalks; sparse landscaping; outdated lighting; limited parking options for vehicles and bicycles; and difficult-to-access bus stops.
Approach On all downtown corridor projects we use the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) recommended context sensitive solutions approach. Improving the roadway and traffic flow are only two aspects of this method. We factor in pedestrian activity, sidewalk commerce, environmental resources, public spaces, business and community needs, and historic preservation. Equally important is the commitment from top officials to support these efforts with input and buy-in from the community. We also focus on sustainable transportation solutions that promote smart growth, urbanism, and community connectivity, which is one of the tenets of the U.S. Green Building Council. All these factors influence the final design of the project.
Community input Communication is absolutely key in corridor redevelopment projects. Understanding needs and goals and getting them right result in a project with the widest benefit—particularly to the community. While visitors may pass through and gain a good impression, residents will live with the results for years.
Sidewalk and landscaping were integrated into an existing park.
These projects are complex due to the large and diverse communities they serve and competing desires and expectations. Applying a “systems thinking” process to understand how various features influence the