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Envisioning a fresh new downtown Moscow

Oct. 19, 2022 Updated Wed., Oct. 19, 2022 at 9:27 p.m.

By Anthony Kuipers Moscow-Pullman Daily News

A proposed face-lift of Moscow’s 40-year-old downtown streetscape could mean more space for pedestrians, a reconfiguration of parking and new features in Friendship Square.

On Tuesday, the city held its second public meeting to gather input on the project aimed at improving the aesthetic and function of the downtown area between Washington and Jackson streets. The first public meeting was held in July and a presentation about the streetscape project was made to the City Council on Monday.

The engineering firm, Welch Comer Engineers, presented its conceptual designs for downtown Tuesday. It will present its master plan to the City Council in December.

Among the major proposed changes is creating a “woonerf” on Main Street between Fourth and Fifth streets, which is meant to make that section more pedestrian friendly. It would be a narrower section of Main Street that vehicles can still travel on, but is designed to be safer for pedestrians crossing back and forth.

Other intersections of downtown would be raised and have curb extensions, or bulbs, that would act as traffic-calming devices to make the area safer for pedestrians.

Del Hatch, of Welch Comer, said the design of Friendship Square incorporates the public’s desire to see more color, possibly through colored concrete and pavers. There is also the possibility of an interactive water feature, such as a splash pad, as well as a new play structure replacing the existing one. There is also space for a mobile entertainment stage that can be installed for events.

To add more room, the traffic circle on Fourth Street in front of the old police station would be removed, and vehicles parked on that street would be directed to exit through the alleyway leading to Fifth Street.

The conceptual designs call for parking stalls to be removed in some areas and added to others. For example, some parking would be removed near Friendship Square but added to the southern end of Main Street.

Matt Gillis, of Welch Comer, said there would be a net gain of seven stalls in the downtown area. Some of the added parking would include stalls compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

With all these changes, some members in attendance were worried this might leave less space for Farmers Market vendors on Main Street. Gillis said vendors should have more flexibility in where they can locate downtown thanks to the new design.

Similar to parking stalls, trees may be removed in some spots, but added to others. The engineers want to move away from what they called the “monoculture” of the honey locust trees that line Main Street. They envision planting trees of different heights and colors. One business owner in attendance Tuesday reminded them not to plant trees that cover the signs of businesses.

Hatch said the engineers are looking at removing as many as 19 trees, but by adding others there will be a net gain of trees in the downtown area.

Moscow Deputy Supervisor Cody Riddle said the existing trees are about 40 years old.

Part of the streetscape project also includes upgrades to the underground utilities and adding vegetation to retain stormwater.

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