SANDPOINT — It won’t be financially feasible for a while, but the city now has a plan for Main Street renovations.
While questions still remain as to how the council-approved “greenway” Main Street concept will ultimately interact with the overall city infrastructure, the plan is now on the books as an official guide for future development of the region.
The greenway concept is designed to promote Main Street as a quiet, safe neighborhood location with an emphasis on beautification. It primarily accomplishes this by detaching it from the complicated intersection near Cedar Street and Boyer Avenue. According to residents and workers in the area, this problematic design has been the site of many accidents and near-accidents in the past.
While the greenway concept would likely solve that problem, however, many council members were concerned that the plan would also make Main Street more difficult to access by those seeking out the businesses and services in the area. A commonly visited area thanks to the Sandpoint Senior Center and some commercial attractions, the street also serves as a route for the SPOT bus and is a street of convenience for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians due to its diagonal design.
“I’m still concerned about closing off Main Street the way it is planned here,” Councilman Aaron Qualls said, later adding, “I think it would be a risk to the viability of that area if Main Street were closed off.”
The intersection at Cedar and Boyer has long been a topic of interest for city staff and officials. The area will likely see some attention as development of the U.S. 2 “Curve” extension continues into its final design phase, especially if highway traffic is introduced to the area upon the project’s completion.
As it stands right now, the intersections already have problems, Public Works Director Kody Van Dyk said. During rush hour traffic, the intersection’s complicated design can back up traffic to a problematic degree.
“It has some delay, and it’s going to fail in engineering terms — meaning the level of service will fail,” he said. “I really want to have plan for the intersection. As for the rest of Main Street, I’d just like to hear what the council wants to do with it.”
In addition, the Urban Area Transportation Plan calls for a roundabout to be installed at the intersection, a feature that engineers worked into all their Main Street concepts. One distinguishing characteristic between the two concepts forwarded to the council was whether or not the roundabout featured an access point onto Main Street. In response to a query by Qualls, Van Dyk said such an intersection was feasible but not ideal.
“It can be very confusing for motorists in a five-legged intersection,” he said.
However, since the greenway concept is not a binding design in any sense, the council ultimately voted to accept it as a concept for future development.
Council members Shelby Rognstad and Justin Schuck abstained from discussion and voting due to conflicts of interest.