We understand City Council frustration about changes to the design of a parking ramp planned in connection with construction of a downtown hotel next to the Convention Center.
Council members were put between a rock and a hard place when the changes were proposed to them at their Oct. 9 meeting. If they didn't sign off on one of two new design plans and instead insisted on the original plan for entrance points they voted for earlier this year, the project would cost between $1 million and $2 million more, they were told.
Along with council members, we scratch our heads at how two private estimates for the same parking ramp design can be a couple million dollars apart.
Given the new, higher estimate, the council did what it needed to do in the name of taxpayers - begrudgingly accept changes to the original design. The new design approved by the council includes one less-than-convenient public entrance on Fifth Street and one lower-level entrance for hotel guests on Virginia Street.
In our minds, this discussion should open the door for another look at converting Fifth and Sixth streets from one-way traffic to two-way traffic because that would improve public access to the new ramp.
In a 2011 editorial, we advocated for returning Fifth and Sixth streets to two-way traffic from Floyd Boulevard to Wesley Parkway for reasons of improved traffic flow into, within and out of downtown in all directions. The plan under discussion in the city at the time was to convert the three one-way traffic lanes to one lane in each direction, with a central turn lane.
If the work can be performed at a reasonable cost (a $9.8 million pricetag prepared by Olsson Associates of Lincoln, Neb., in 2014 was then and is today unreasonable), we remain supportive of this idea.