Duane Hagadone revised his plans Friday for rerouting traffic in downtown Coeur d’Alene and is now asking the city to close a block of Front Avenue in addition to Sherman Avenue.
Hagadone said that after his engineers and designers reviewed traffic flows and safety concerns, they recommended closing Front Avenue between Second and Third streets. Only Coeur d’Alene Resort traffic and emergency vehicles could access Front, which is the main entrance to the resort.
Closing the block of Front would increase pedestrian safety and force drivers to stay on portions of Sherman Avenue that remain open, Hagadone said. It would provide the room to create a “front door” to the shopping district, the resort and the proposed gardens.
And that could help sell the idea to some downtown merchants who are worried that Hagadone’s plans to close the first two blocks of Sherman for a lavish garden would hurt business.
Hagadone is asking the city to close Sherman between Northwest Boulevard and Second Street so he can build a garden in memory of his parents and a new hotel tower on the corner of Second and Sherman.
The plan calls for rerouting traffic onto Lakeside Avenue. From there, drivers would be routed back onto Sherman Avenue via Second Street, wrapping in front of the new hotel tower.
Closing Front is “not my idea,” Hagadone said Friday in a satellite call from his yacht in the Caribbean. “This was recommended by my consulting team. I want to make it as safe and in the best interest of the city.”
Jim Coleman of JUB Engineering said the intersection of Second and Front has long been a safety concern and hazard for people walking between the Coeur d’Alene Resort and the resort shops.
“It’s a very dangerous intersection,” Coleman said. “It discourages pedestrian traffic instead of encouraging pedestrian traffic, which is what downtown really wants to do.”
The Centennial Trail also uses that portion of Front Avenue. Coleman said that closing the street would enable the city to improve the recreational path and make it safer. He also sees it as a way to provide a nearly traffic-free connection between McEuen Field and Tubbs Hill all the way to City Park, Memorial Field and North Idaho College.
The proposal also includes the idea of converting Third Street to two-way traffic from Lakeside Avenue south to Front. Coleman said that would help ease congestion at the entrance to the Third Street parking lot and boat launch.
“It eliminates a lot of conflict,” Coleman said.
Coleman said he should have an official traffic study of downtown Coeur d’Alene completed in early December. He’s still working with how to convert Third Street, and perhaps Fourth Street, into two-way roads.
This isn’t a new idea. Coeur d’Alene already is investigating allowing two-way traffic on both Third and Fourth streets as a way to get more traffic to Midtown.
Coeur d’Alene Downtown Association Executive Director Carrie Cook said the group of business owners wasn’t aware of the latest revision. Some business owners have suggested that the city poll residents, perhaps on a February ballot, to see if they agree with Hagadone’s plan to transform downtown.
Hagadone doesn’t believe that’s needed.
“We elect our city officials to make these decisions,” he said. “If every decision that came up was taken to a vote it wouldn’t be in the best interest of our community.”
The downtown association has hired an urban planner and economist to evaluate Hagadone’s proposal and will use the information to form an official position to present at the City Council’s first public workshop, on Dec. 13. Hagadone also will make a presentation at that meeting.