Cliff Brooks Presents Preliminary Designs for Greeneville TN Depot Street Improvements
Earlier this week, Associate Principal Cliff Brooks and the project engineers Vaughn and Melton, presented the preliminary streetscape design for three blocks of Depot Street in Greeneville, TN. Getting feedback from the community is always an extremely important step in our design process. We want to ensure that the design accurately represents the community and addresses the community’s hopes and concerns. It is one of our favorite parts of the design process, getting to work with the people our design will impact.
There are great opportunities in downtown Greeneville and Depot Street is one of those opportunities. The preliminary design includes a road diet which would allow for wider sidewalks to improve the pedestrian experience. Parking would be moved from both sides of the street to one side of the street for a portion of the project site to create room for wider sidewalks. Wider sidewalks allow for new plantings, lighting, and outdoor activity space. To offset the loss of parking spots the town is currently in discussions about developing public parking in a nearby lot. Not only would this create a more attractive streetscape but the design is meant to complement the current architecture on the street. Cliff explained,
“Our philosophy is that we don’t think a streetscape should draw attention to itself. It is not there to cover anything up but to spotlight the buildings. And it will evolve over time.”
The concept is that by creating a more walkable, pedestrian-friendly, and attractive downtown this will attract development and spark economic growth. We have seen this result first hand with many of our streetscape projects, including most recently Downtown Concord, NH.
The design also includes a focus on the western block of Depot Street as a festival location and for it to be designated as such. While the streets in the other two blocks are proposed to be designed with asphalt, this block is recommended for paving with decorative concrete or paver to reflect its use for special events. The design also includes an elevated, 80 foot-wide mid-block pedestrian crossing. When questioned about this portion of the preliminary design Cliff said,
“It makes a unique outdoors space that can be used for a festival or special event. We recognize that the street is not just a place for getting from point A to B. It is a place where people can live, work, play and become interconnected.”
Once his presentation was complete, Cliff began taking questions from the community. Below are some of the questions we often hear when presenting streetscape improvements to a community and they revolve around parking, cost and maintenance, and utility upgrades.
Loss of Parking
Usually the primary concern amongst a community when discussing a road-diet. The question was asked if the design team had explored the option of one way streets to preserve on street parking. Cliff responded by saying yes that had been explored by the design team and was the preferred solution however, a roadway of at least 20 feet is required for access by a fire truck. The two driving lanes take up 22 feet, just two more feet than what the one-lane would be required to be. Cliff commented, “If you have to have 20 feet, you might as well go for 22.”
Cost and Maintenance
To ensure that there isn’t an undue burden of cost and maintenance on a community we evaluate and recommend materials such as plantings, site furnishings, and paving that are durable and easy for the town to maintain. In regards to trees, Cliff said a recommendation will be made for a tree that would be drought tolerant and require little care. He added that there are technologies that direct tree root growth downward and prevent roots from getting under the street or sidewalk to cause damage.
The question of utility upgrades is usually raised as it seems logical that if you are constructing a new streetscape to improve the town’s infrastructure as well. Vaughn and Melton will be working with the local utilities to plan for upgrades to water, sewer, electrical as well as other services as the streetscape improvements are made.