Much of what he talked about was information that had been
gleaned from workshops, meetings and surveys taken in September last
year, which showed that almost everyone is concerned about the lack
of parking in the downtown area.
It is an issue that has to be
addressed in one way or another if Lincoln wants to draw more people
into the downtown area on a regular basis.
As part of a PowerPoint presentation, Colgan introduced some new
ideas for public parking in the downtown region.
In a follow-up conversation with Lisa Kramer of Prairie Engineers
on Wednesday morning, she wanted to caution readers that this is not
set in stone at this point. While the ideas may appear to be
practical solutions, a land-use study that is being conducted and
not yet complete will shed more light on where and how additional
parking can be created.
That study may find that all the suggestions given Tuesday night
are reasonable and practical, or it may lead the steering committee
in a different direction. Regardless, it did serve to show the
community that there are options available if they think creatively.
Starting at the north end of the downtown region, Colgan pointed
out the public area across the street from Latham Park on North
Kickapoo. Currently there is public parking there, but it is
limited. The suggestion is to relocate one existing business,
eliminate a city-owned building in that block and convert the entire
length of the block to a public parking lot. This would create
between 129 and 139 parking spaces.
Moving on to the corner of Pekin and Kickapoo on the southeast
corner, Colgan said turning the area that is currently green space
into parking would add another 22 to 24 spaces. This is a project
the city has already been talking about doing. The green space is
city-owned property and connects to the Pekin Street lot adjacent to
In what was referred to as the rail downtown area, there is
potential for two public lots on South Chicago Street between
Broadway and Clinton streets, south of the Amtrak station. Lot one
between Broadway and Pulaski Street would add up to 77 spaces, and
lot two between Pulaski and Clinton would add up to 89 spaces.
Kramer confirmed on Wednesday that this suggestion would also
involve the relocation of a couple of businesses in the area. She
also said that it would not disrupt the flow of traffic in that
region. As proposed, there would still be plenty of room for
pass-through driving lanes.
On Clinton Street there is an area a half-block deep and a full
block long between Guzzardo's and Scully Park, where plans to
improve parking include building a "deck" or parking garage.
Currently the city has a lot in the center of that space. The
proposal would include once again relocating a business and also
acquiring a property on the east side of the lot that is currently
privately owned and closed to the public. While it wasn't mentioned
how many levels would be included in the deck, the estimates of
gained parking are approximately 240 to 250 spaces.
Once the land-use study is completed, if it maintains these are
feasible areas and the plans can be implemented as presented, this
would add a total of approximately 584 parking spaces for downtown
Kramer commented on the relocation of
businesses saying; "Hopefully people will keep in mind that
components of the planning are long range, and also that the City
has no intentions of forcing anyone out of a location they want to
Another project Colgan outlined is one that has been discussed at
past meetings as well: creating a better atmosphere. Many successful
communities incorporate into their downtown areas outdoor spaces
that draw people into the area for the relaxed and attractive
atmosphere they present.
Looking specifically at the courthouse downtown region, Colgan
said that Kickapoo Street has been identified as the "main street"
into Lincoln. This later came up during discussion, and it was noted
there are several arteries into the heart of the city, but from a
traffic-flow standpoint, Kickapoo is the most direct and is also a
street with a good number of businesses along it.
These factors weighed into creating a larger outdoor space on
Kickapoo between Broadway and Pulaski.
[to top of second column]
Colgan presented an aerial view of the courthouse square with an
overlay of suggested modifications.
Included in the changes was a widening of the sidewalk on
Kickapoo. Colgan said this would include changing the parking from
angle to parallel and creating an 18- to 20-foot-wide sidewalk.
The wider walk would open the door for outdoor dining areas,
larger landscaping displays and even more downtown activities such
as farmers markets. Putting this on Kickapoo, with that street being
considered as the "main street," would make it a "marquee block,"
Colgan said, that would make a real "Wow" statement to people coming
This illustration also showed some proposed changes that would
make the downtown area safer for pedestrian traffic all around the
square. The proposal is to do out-sets at corners and redirect the
flow of foot traffic. Colgan pointed out that the out-sets would
narrow the walking distance in traffic and also eliminate crossing
the streets at angles, making it easier and safer for walkers to get
from one side or corner to the other.
These same out-sets would also be incorporated into the middle of
each block around the square, again shortening the space where
walkers are actually in the line of traffic.
A third point that Colgan discussed was how to bring people to
the downtown area once they arrive in Lincoln. He noted that finding
the courthouse square can be difficult for visitors not familiar
with the area.
He said in order to bring visitors to the downtown, they need
some direction. This part of the plan includes offering decorative
signage along some of the main arteries to guide people along the
From the audience it was suggested that these signs would help,
but they need to be placed in the right locations. Colgan agreed,
saying signage would go up at the outskirts, particularly on Route
10 and 121, indicating "this is the way." He said additional signs
would need to be placed approaching downtown to let people know they
were still on the right track.
Other suggestions that were made Tuesday night included
capitalizing even more on the Abraham Lincoln heritage in the
downtown area in order to draw more tourism, and looking at the
Route 66 aspects of the community. Colgan noted that Route 66, as it
is mapped through the city of Lincoln currently, bypasses the
downtown area, but the fact is there was a Route 66 pathway through
the downtown area at one time, and it could be re-established and
still be historically correct.
Currently, Route 66 comes into Lincoln past The Mill, turns on
Fifth Street, goes north on Logan, west on Keokuk, then north again
on Kickapoo. The route could be changed to turn east on Broadway
then north on Kickapoo.
No project this size can come before city and county officials
and the general public without the subject of money coming into
play. At the tail end of the meeting, Colgan, Forgy and Kramer
interacted with the audience as the topic turned to matching funds
and TIF districts.
The third and final segment of this series will address what was
said and how ideas are being developed.
[By NILA SMITH]
Note: The steering committee for the proposed plan continues
to encourage public participation. They would like to hear your
thoughts on the proposed plans on how to improve Lincoln's downtown.
Send us your thoughts:
Yes, I like ____. No, I don't like this part: ____. I have another
Want to know more? Another meeting is planned in about a month. The
date is not set yet.
Part 1 of this
overview of the project
Past related articles