Business owners concerned over customer access, Madison Avenue parking

When construction begins to redesign Madison Avenue, downtown traffic can continue using the street during the entire six-month project.

The ability for customers to get to shops during and after construction on the stretch of Madison Avenue from Pearl to Noble streets has been a concern for business owners, and city officials have promised that access won’t be shut off during construction.

About 50 residents and business owners attended a meeting this week about the proposed reconstruction of Madison Avenue. While the majority said they were excited about the city’s proposed redesign of the street, questions remained about customer and delivery truck access to Madison Avenue businesses, whether utility poles would be moved and if downtown businesses would have enough parking.

Greenwood plans to spend $12.5 million to do a full reconstruction of Madison Avenue, from Smith Valley Road to County Line Road. The reconstructed road won’t have a center turn lane in many sections, with the city planning to use that extra space to widen sidewalks and add bike lanes. The first phase of the project — from Pearl Street to Noble Street — is planned to begin in April and will cost about $2 million.

Key to the city’s redesign in this first section is the addition of a 12-foot wide trail for pedestrians and bicyclists and a four-foot vegetative buffer between the trail and street, which is being added at the expense of removing a center turn lane. Two crosswalks, including one with a pedestrian-activated signal to stop traffic near Euclid Avenue, are also planned.

While initial designs called for a bike lane to be completely separated from the trail, the bike lane will instead be combined with the trail on a 12-foot wide asphalt path on the west side of Madison Avenue, capital projects manager Kevin Steinmetz said.

Local residents said plans to add a trail and crosswalks to Madison Avenue will make getting around downtown Greenwood much easier.

Chris and Kelly Munoz, who purchased a home on Broadway Street west of Madison Avenue earlier this year, said they are looking forward to the addition of the trail and crosswalks, which they say will make it easier to walk around downtown, especially to places such as the Greenwood Farmers’ Market on Madison Avenue.

Greenwood resident Greg Tymn said the biggest obstacle to walking along Madison Avenue is that the sidewalks directly abut the street, and with cars driving by at more than 30 mph, he often doesn’t feel safe on the narrow sidewalks. With the addition of the the 4- to 6-foot buffer, he said residents will feel much more comfortable walking along the street.

Another resident questioned why the city didn’t take steps to remove utility poles on the east side of the road, which cut into the sidewalk.

People walking on the east side of the street sometimes have to go single-file to get around the poles, Jeff Dollens said.

Removing or re-arranging the utility poles was something the city considered but decided that the more than $1 million cost of burying the Duke Energy power lines was too high, Steinmetz said.

The other option, buying additional land on the east side of Madison Avenue from homeowners and businesses, would have been a costly and complex project, and the city’s goal was not to have to force anyone to give up any land, Steinmetz said.

That means the sidewalk on the east side of the road will remain in the same location, he said.

Business owners have been concerned about losing income due to the project. Scott Eanes, who owns Take Root Country Store at 202 N. Madison Ave., said that while he had initial worries, the information he’s gotten from the city in the past month has helped alleviate concerns about how customers will be able to access his store during and after construction.

He’s glad the city has promised to keep the street open to traffic through the project and provide updates before work takes place.

“I feel completely at ease,” he said.

About a dozen business owners along Madison Avenue have been meeting regularly with city officials to provide input about the project and construction plans, Eanes said.

Tom Trotter, who owns the restaurant La Trattoria Italian, said his parking lot often is used by non-customers. Once the Madison Avenue improvements are complete and more businesses are drawn to the area, he wonders how they will have enough parking to accommodate customers.

Steinmetz said that part of the plan to alleviate that issue is that the trail network created by the improvements to Madison Avenue will connect multiple downtown parking lots, giving people the ability to park and walk to nearby restaurants and shops.

Another concern that city officials have been working to address is deliveries to local businesses. In some cases, semi-trucks park in the center-turn lane of Madison Avenue while they make deliveries.

The city is considering options such as having businesses reschedule deliveries to times with less traffic, such as at night or early in the morning. Another possibility is to check if delivery companies can use smaller trucks designed for urban deliveries, Steinmetz said.

At a glance

A proposed reconstruction of Madison Avenue from Pearl Street to Noble Street in Greenwood is planned for summer 2018. Here’s a look at the timeline for the project:

January: Construction plans finalized

February: Construction bids requested

April: Construction begins

September: Construction ends

Author photo
Jacob Tellers is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at jtellers@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2702.