The great light way 

Though anecdotal reports shine a bit of light on the functioning (or malfunctioning, depending on your viewpoint) of West Broadway's new look, some real illumination is about to hit the street in the form of 10 new streetlights now being installed, which should be up and glowing by month's end. Two new overhead signs will also help steer drivers through the reconfigured thoroughfare.

Joe Oliphant, project development coordinator for the city, hopes the changes will ease the transition that's brought angry business owners to City Council meetings with access complaints and tales of dangerous driving displays.

He thinks most of the problems people are experiencing result from the fact that the project-which pared Broadway's five lanes to three from Russell to Orange streets-hasn't been fully implemented. The project was scheduled to start next spring, but widespread safety concerns compelled installment of the temporary version. Instead of real medians that restrict traffic, temporary, movable curbs and construction cones mark the transition.

"We knew going in that it was going to create some issues," Oliphant says. "It's not operating like it could be."

Still, he knows that anxieties have been running high, especially for area business owners who say the change has chased away customers. He's been timing the amount of time it takes to get in and out of driveways and tweaking stoplight timing to decrease delays. The Public Works Department will soon begin traffic counts to gauge whether traffic is dropping off on the corridor, which could indicate whether it's bleeding onto nearby neighborhood streets, forcing them to bear an extra burden. At a Dec. 6 meeting (3 p.m., Canoe Rack, 501 N. California St.) these findings and those of area business owners will be addressed.

Oliphant says the project needs a full year once it's completed before it will be fair to judge whether it's blossomed or bombed. For struggling business owners, though, that could prove to be too long, he says, and the city might not hold tight to the timeline.

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