Wichita City Council to vote on downtown street plan that calls for some major changes

The Wichita City Council will vote Tuesday on a concept plan for redesigning downtown streets that calls for converting several one-way roads to two-way and reducing the number of lanes on other two-way streets.

The proposal, born out of Wichita’s Project Downtown master plan, aims to serve as a blueprint for improving safety and mobility in the city core. Wichita’s Capital Improvement Plan allocates $17.4 million for upgrades to downtown streets over the next 10 years.

“We want to foster economic development and really embrace safety and health as a philosophy for downtown Wichita,” Tia Raamot, senior management analyst with the city’s transit department, said in a video uploaded to the city’s YouTube channel Friday.

Under the proposal, Market and Topeka would both be converted from one-way to two-way streets with one lane each for northbound and southbound traffic, as was recently completed on Emporia. Main Street would also be converted from four lanes of one-way traffic to two lanes of traffic in each direction.

“I’m sure there’s many people who probably have the experience of going the wrong way down the wrong street — even among locals,” said Alyson Fletcher, a representative from Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates, which was hired to help produce the plan and has done similar work for other cities, including Tulsa, and Rogers, Arkansas.

If approved by the council, re-striping one-way streets for two-way traffic would be the first phase of implementation. The plan also calls for cutting the number of lanes on Broadway and Waterman down from four to two with a wide median. This trend has been dubbed the “road diet” by city planners, who hope to encourage more walking and biking in the city core.

“The road diet roadway conversion allows for added on-street parking to support future adjacent land use development,” the plan states of the Broadway remodel between Murdock and Kellogg.

As part of the concept plan’s formulation, the city and consulting firm held at least 24 public events and sent out 20,000 postcards to downtown businesses and residents.