Accessibility is a critical component in the success of any business district. Given its past impact on downtown, transportation, in all its forms, must be carefully considered when planning for the future to ensure that it supports the vision for downtown Kalamazoo.
The design, orientation and character of streets have had a profound impact on downtown. Much of the current street pattern stems from the 1950’s Gruen Plan that envisioned creating a downtown super-block, surrounded by a one-way network of streets and a sea of parking, similar to the shopping malls of today. Luckily, that plan was not fully implemented. Still, the fallout has been a network of one-way streets that are excessively wide and carry a mix of cars and trucks at relatively high speeds through the heart of the downtown. While accessibility is an essential element of success, the current street network is over designed in relation to the volumes of traffic being carried and the context of the downtown district. The role of streets as visual elements downtown has been overlooked.