Monday, January 09, 2006

The Boulevard

I love driving Kanawha Boulevard. Unless I am in a hurry I will always take the Boulevard when I travel in from South Charleston. It is the only place in town where one can drive at a leisurely pace for more that a half mile without being stopped by traffic controls. I think the Boulevard, in its present form, is one of the best features of Charleston. It is a relaxing alternative to the high-stress I64 route.

Sometimes I ride my bike along the Boulevard. I have never found it too difficult to cross all four lanes to reach the sidewalk (although it would be nice to have a few more cuts in the high curb between the sidewalk and traffic lane). Sometimes I will drive to the Capitol and take a walk on the Boulevard.

For the past several summers, beginning with the Goldman administration, the City has been closing off the east-bound lanes from the South Side Bridge to the Capitol to allow more people to use the Boulevard for recreational purposes. I have taken my kids and their bikes down on few of these Sunday's. Not many people are attracted by these events.

The vocal minority of our city's population that wants to remove or reduce vehicular traffic thinks that more people will be able to enjoy the riverfront if we make it only accessible on foot. I think they are dead wrong. Many people, especially visitors to our fair city, would never see our riverfront unless they drive by.

While it seems to me that there is a fate-accompli attitude about changing the Boulevard, it also seems to me that most of the folks pushing the agenda are people that do not use the Boulevard and probably won't in the future. Most of the city government folks I see promoting the idea only pass over the boulevard on the South Side Bridge.

With a mandatory $200 million sewer project staring us in the face, it seems unconscionable to consider spending at least that much on a face-lift that is simply unnecessary and will not be an improvement for the livability and visitability of our city.


Stacey said...

The one thing that I don't like about the boulevard, and you alluded to it in your post, is the high curb. Driving the boulevard in the right-hand lane always makes me feel a little claustrophobic... I'm always afraid I am going to hit the curb.

Another item that annoys me is that walking the boulevard after it has rained requires quick moves sometimes. That is, if you don't want to get soaked by traffic. I have had that happen on occassion. So, it seems they need better drainage.

I don't walk it much anymore, but I used to park in the residential area on Va street, walk over to the boulevard, and walk down it to capitol street and hale street where I used to work. And if not for the rain puddles that everyone seems to hit, it was always a nice enjoyable walk.

Lawbot said...

I'm a bike commuter -- trust me, during rush the blvd is a nightmare to cross.

Rick Lee said...

I'm one of those people that is in favor of narrowing the Boulevard so as to allow for a better riverfront park. Gone are the days when the Boulevard was the main thoroughfare through town. I'd like the park better than the 4 lanes of traffic that go unused most of the day. It's only that half-hour in the evening (5 days a week) that the 4 lanes are useful. Just my humble opinion