Two Lanes Downtown

There’s another article in the Nevada Appeal today about the narrowing of Carson Street that the city is planning on doing after the freeway is built. The plan is to narrow Carson Street to two lanes from Fifth to William Streets, which would be the whole downtown core by the Nugget and the Capitol. The idea then would be to widen the sidewalks and make the area more friendly to pedestrians. Because right now walking along Carson Street is not a fun experience. You’re wedged in between the imposing storefronts and a heavy iron fence, walking inches from the passing cars, with an occasional semi truck threatening to sweep you from your feet. So widening the sidewalk would give you more room to move around, and maybe even give restaurants like B’Sghetti’s room for a couple of outside tables.

Of course there are objections to the plan, most of them saying that there will still be tons of traffic going through downtown after the freeway is built, so Carson Street will be a horrible mess. But the article points out the one thing that I didn’t consider, but should have. If Carson Street through downtown is a horrible mess, everybody’s going to stay away from it. People who really have somewhere to go will know not to use Carson Street, they’ll find a way to get around it. So cutting those cars out will reduce the amount of traffic downtown to a manageable level, because the only cars driving through downtown will be the ones that actually want to be there. The article calls this making Carson Street “less attractive” to cars, which in turn will make it more attractive to pedestrians.

Of course another piece that needs to fall into place is for attractive businesses to move to downtown, that make people want to go there in the first place. Right now there’s not much to draw you in: there are a few restaurants and a couple of charming gift shops, but much of downtown is pawn shops and casinos, and that’s not going to make tourists want to flock to downtown. There need to be the kind of businesses downtown that make you want to stroll from one shop to the next, and that’s something the government can’t just magically make appear. We’re all going to have to work together to make it happen if we want a nice downtown.

Plus, if you look at the article (or have a copy of today’s newspaper), look at the photo they used to demonstrate the way Carson Street used to be, with two lanes. Look familiar?

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