Business owners on the two east-west one-ways in Davenport don’t all agree a downtown Davenport business organization’s assertion that switching to two-way traffic could boost business.
At Sweet Delite, 1901 W 4th St., “save our one-ways” stickers, buttons, and a petition opposing the conversion sits out for patrons to pick up or sign.
The seasonal ice cream parlor owners don’t want 3rd and 4th streets to change. They would welcome a resurfacing, as the city plans to do no matter what, but not two-way traffic. Part-owner Alan Goacher said they’re most concerned about the conversion’s effects on pedestrian safety, confusion with a new system, updating signage, and making it inconvenient for customers to stop by.
“If they do it, and it is an inconvenience, people might take other routes and not come down this way anymore,” Goacher said.
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Aldermen are still considering whether to convert 3rd and 4th streets to two-ways, and how many city blocks to convert if they do. Sweet Delite is outside of the Downtown Davenport Partnership’s original proposal, which ended the two-way conversion at Marquette Street.
The Partnership and some business owners and city leaders have for years promoted the conversion as a way to make downtown Davenport more inviting to businesses and pedestrians, and most recently proposed the city do it at the same time the city plans to complete a separate project resurfacing 3rd and 4th streets — set for fiscal 2024 — in order to save time and expense.
Sweet Delite, owned and operated by Bruce, Jan, and their son, Alan Goacher, for more than a decade, isn’t the only business where owners are opposed to the conversion. The Goachers estimate they’ve delivered more than a dozen petitions to various businesses that have garnered hundreds of customer signatures since they started last week. They plan to deliver it to the city, and attend the final vote meeting to show opposition.
Among their concerns, the Sweet Delite sign faces only westbound traffic, said Alan Goacher, and it would be costly to replace with a two-sided sign.
Sweet Delite gets about five truck shipments a week. The vehicles take up a lane of traffic on 4th Street to unload, but with three other lanes, cars have room to go around or park at their shop.
With fewer lanes available, Goacher said he fears trucks would block traffic on either 4th Street, a narrow side street, or the entrances to Sweet Delite’s parking lot.
A recent report by Davenport city staff outlined challenges downtown businesses would face with delivery vehicles if the city converted to two-way traffic. Idling in a lane of traffic could cause collisions, delays, and impact emergency response time. Likewise, the report says, alleyways don’t appear to have enough space for loading zones because of their narrowness and dumpster locations.
The solution: If the city does go forward with conversion, the city report recommended creating targeted loading zones so trucks don’t have to compete for parking. The zones could be converted from existing on-street parking spaces. But staff recommended doing a separate study surveying businesses on when and how many shipments they receive to identify where those zones should be.
The report also estimated the costs for three options the city end the conversion — at Marquette Street, Division Street, or through to Telegraph Road. Those options range from $1.6 million to $3.25 million.
The Downtown Davenport Partnership would chip in $700,000. Partnership Director Kyle Carter said he’d have to discuss with the board whether it would be willing to up its pledge if the city decides to convert more city blocks to two-way.
The Downtown Davenport Partnership’s special taxing district extends from River Drive to Brown Street. Businesses in the district pay additional taxes for the Partnership to administer to improve the downtown.
Although the Partnership technically doesn’t represent the western-most businesses on 3rd and 4th Street, Carter said the conversion could benefit them.
“Much like the benefits that we’ve talked about for the core of downtown, I really think that it is more likely to see more businesses locate west of downtown and those neighborhoods if the traffic pattern suits the kind of growth that they want,” Carter said. “These are neighborhoods. You don’t build neighborhood businesses with fast moving traffic.”
Owners of Rudy’s Tacos on West 4th Street and Bruce’s New and Used Furniture, too, share the concerns with the Goachers that the city could spend the taxpayer money proposed to convert to two-ways on other things, and don’t see the benefits.
Other businesses are prepared either way. Abarrotes Carrillo Owner Adrian Carrillo, speaking with his daughter, Rosa Carrillo, translating, said he didn’t think his business would have an issue with one-ways or two-way streets. The Mexican restaurant and market on West 3rd Street has a loading dock in the back, and doesn’t need to take shipments from the street. Parking, however, he said, could be more challenging with two directions of traffic.
The city-written report said the city should not allow businesses to stack cars into the travel lanes, such as sometimes happens at Redband Coffee, 329 E 4th St. Owner Rick Cook wrote in an email that he would be “fine whatever the City decides to do.”
“Whether it is one way traffic on 3rd and 4th streets or two-way traffic. Redband is currently working on a plan that will work well with both traffic patterns,” Cook wrote, adding that he was working out the specifics with city officials.
Other business owners really want the change. Gwendolyn Lee, who owns RubberStamps.net and Endless Brews, both downtown, said she wishes “it could happen tomorrow.”
“Rerouting in a case of a flood or any kind of special event,” Lee said. “There are so many studies that have gone to show increased property values, increased walkability, decreased crime. I think that the proof is already out there for all the possibilities.”