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Different road for Woodward?
Mayor favors making it all two lanes
Woodward Avenue looking east near Woodward Park. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Mayor Willie Weatherford believes there is a way to slow traffic down, partially resolve Woodward Park parking problems on the weekend, and make it safer for pedestrians crossing Woodward Avenue at the same time.

The mayor wants the city to explore the possibility of eliminating four lanes on Woodward Avenue between Main Street and Bridewell and replacing it with two lanes with diagonal parking on the south side of the road.

“We really need to do something with the parking around the park especially on weekends,” Weatherford said.

It isn’t usually for those attending major north state soccer tournaments conducted at the park to clog neighborhood streets trying to park their vehicles.

Weatherford noted the city already has eliminated plans to develop Woodward Avenue as a four lane road west of Main Street. Instead it is being developed as a two-lane road with a tree-lined median in a bid to retrain the semirural character of the existing neighborhoods plus slow down traffic.

Once the missing link of Atherton Drive goes in between Main Street and a point west of Wellington Avenue later this year it will provide another way to reach Moffat. Eventually Atherton will be extended south of Woodward into the envisioned 1,042-acre Austin Road Business Park.

The mayor pointed out Austin Road Business Park wasn’t even on the drawing board or considered a possibility when Woodward Avenue was originally designated as a future four-lane road. The fact Atherton Drive is about a quarter of a mile to the north makes the need for four lanes on Woodward unnecessary.

It would also eliminate a long-standing concern of area residents about people exiting the 120 Bypass at Airport Way or Union Road when congestion slows traffic to a crawl and then using Woodward Avenue as a high speed detour to re-access the freeways at Austin Road.

Woodward Avenue is wide enough near the park that there would still be room for a “parking lane” that vehicles can use to look for a diagonal parking space without impeding through traffic. The mayor said diagonal parking along the park on Bridewell might also be feasible.

“Woodward is a community park and not a neighborhood park,” Weatherford said as to why he felt the city should try to find a parking solution for heavy use events that reduce on-street parking in front of homes as much as possible.

The mayor suggested the city look into converting Woodward to two lanes east of Main Street on Tuesday when the council approved a crosswalk across Woodward Avenue at Buena Vista Drive.

Ben Cantu, a retired city planner who was on staff when the original four-lane plan for Woodward Avenue was adapted by the council, has been critical of the city decision to abandon that plan and developed Woodward Avenue instead as a wide two lane street with tree-lined median. Cantu repeatedly made the point Woodward was adopted as a four-lane thoroughfare to move traffic.

Weatherford said this week he doubted the city would have much luck securing the right-of-way from dozens upon dozens of homeowners in order to widen Woodward to four lanes. He also pointed out that as Atherton Drive develops the need to travel on Woodward lessens for many people.