Wednesday, January 16, 2013
As he developed a detailed plan for construction of a federal district located at the confluence of the Potomac and Anacostia rivers, Pierre L’Enfant included several wide boulevards to traverse his urban grid, serving as grand entrances to the city center. These routes — including the National Mall and Pennsylvania Avenue — remain prominent and impressive features in modern Washington, D.C.
Greenville does not wield the global influence that would require such promenades here, but its entranceways send a similarly powerful message about the community awaiting visitors. It is therefore fitting that the City Council has seen fit to emphasize improvement of those routes, to facilitate ease of travel as well as to set an aesthetically pleasing tone for residents and guests alike.
In a matter of years, motorists entering Greenville from the state’s population centers in the west may scarcely recognize the hub of eastern North Carolina at first glance. The growth of the medical district already erased memory of this as a town that marked its calendars only by the planting, growth, harvest and sales of the annual tobacco crop. Soon, new thoroughfares will complement that change, propelling people toward a redeveloped downtown and East Carolina University.
The city has worked for years to change the traffic pattern of Stantonsburg Road and 10th Street. As the road that brings vehicles into the city, construction of a limited-access connector will provide a more direct route to the university for visitors. That project is under way and is being pursued with sensitivity for those families and businesses who will be affected or displaced as a result.
Now officials have begun negotiations to obtain land near the intersection of 14th and 5th streets. If successful, it may be the future home of a roundabout, easing the flow of traffic in that area and affording improved landscaping and aesthetic value for neighbors. Though some were wary of the last traffic circle — built at the intersection of Fire Tower and Portertown roads — has been generally successful.
West Fifth Street already boasts the addition of an attractive gateway honoring longtime educator C.M. Eppes, and these projects should serve to further accentuate that improvement. They should help instill pride in nearby neighborhoods and across the city, and help Greenville put on its best face for those coming into town.
As urban planners throughout history have shown — and L’Enfant proved in the District of Columbia — city entranceways matter. City officials deserve credit for working to apply that lesson at home.
via The Daily Reflector.