Reworked Meridian corridor opens early

An $8.5 million project was designed to help drivers and the city’s businesses.

cmsewell@idahostatesman.comSeptember 19, 2013 

OK, Meridian drivers. After nearly a year of detours, delays and closed roads, get ready for smooth sailing.

On Thursday, the construction barricades will come down on the split-corridor project, which included:

• Widening Meridian Road to five lanes between Franklin Road and Cherry Lane to include two lanes in each direction and a center turn lane.

• Constructing a one-way crossover road, connecting Main Street and Meridian Road, just south of the railroad tracks.

• Adding 7-foot-wide sidewalks on Meridian Road.

• Rebuilding the Main/Fairview and Meridian/Cherry intersections

• Upgrading Meridian sewer and water services to increase capacity.

The first phase of the project, completed in August 2009, converted Main Street and Meridian Road to one-way streets between Interstate 84 and Franklin.

The new setup will get through traffic onto the wider Meridian Road and limit the narrower, two-way Main Street to local business traffic.

‘PARKLETS’ SPILL INTO DOWNTOWN STREETS

Sidewalks in downtown Meridian are too narrow to allow room for pedestrians and outdoor diners. So Meridian planners came up with an innovative idea and will give parklets a test-drive this month.

A parklet is a temporary, pop-up park made by installing a platform with railings over the street parking spaces to create temporary outdoor dining or public spaces. The platform serves as an extension of the sidewalk, providing space for seating, planters, railings or other amenities.

The first official parklet was built in San Francisco in 2010. Since then, they’ve sprung up in Philadelphia, Oakland, Los Angeles, Dallas and other cities.

Meridian is the first city in Ada County to install a parklet.

The city is working with Sunrise Café and Rick’s Press Room on Idaho Avenue to do a temporary weekend demonstration project, installing an 18-by-7-foot wooden platform in the parking spaces that front the businesses.

The first test took place last weekend at Sunrise Cafe. About 120 people took advantage and dined al fresco.

“Everything went really well,” said Brian McClure of the city’s planning department. “The owner of Sunrise Café ... told us he received a lot of positive feedback from his customers.”

Rick’s Press Room is tentatively scheduled to have a parklet in front of its restaurant on Sept. 27 and 28.

Next, city staff will review the feedback and consider asking the council to bring back the parklet program next summer.

Cynthia Sewell: 377-6428, Twitter: @CynthiaSewell

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