Just last week I dropped a friend off near Arrowhead Road and Highway 53 just before 8 a.m. and headed toward my office in downtown Duluth. I glanced at the dashboard clock and it said 7:58. I had anticipated a congested trip but traffic was fairly light.
I made my way downtown thinking about my upcoming work day, scored a (free) parking spot, and to my surprise saw my car clock said 8:05. Seven minutes to go five miles on Central Entrance, of all routes. I had to admit that was an easy and direct commute.
Fresh in my memory, however, are recent after-work trips to Miller Hill to run errands where I waited out more than one cycle of traffic light changes at Arlington Road and Central Entrance. I–like everyone else–get frustrated by sitting in traffic.
But I think that we get frustrated much quicker than big city drivers who have horror stories about the amount of time they get stuck in traffic. Relatively speaking, we have it pretty good. So what is it about Central Entrance that makes many of us want to avoid it?
The Bigger Picture
From a transportation standpoint, it’s not just about reducing vehicle congestion on this road, but about balancing the needs of all users. In transportation planning, we think about improving Central Entrance from many perspectives, including:
- Mobility (getting travelers through the area)
- Access (getting customers to local businesses)
- Multimodal (accommodating pedestrians, bicyclists and transit users)
- Safety (for all)
- Livability (for neighborhood residents)
Someday (The Vision)
The City of Duluth has been thinking about these things as well. A long term vision for Central Entrance was recently identified, with input from businesses and residents, in its Central Entrance-Miller Hill Small Area Plan. The vision for the corridor is for a more walkable area that would regain its focus as the “main street” for the Duluth Heights neighborhood.
Where We Come In
As a step toward implementing the plan, the City has asked the MIC to examine the transportation challenges on the Central Entrance corridor. We will be collecting data, surveying residents, and making recommendations that will help in achieving the goal of eventually transforming Central Entrance into a more comfortable and attractive part of town.
There will be more information posted via this blog as our work progresses, but meanwhile, you can get more information about the Central Entrance Corridor study on our website.
So what do you think about Duluth’s neighborhood-oriented vision for Central Entrance? Can you picture a balanced transportation system like I describe above?