Corridor plan focuses on Campustown transition

Christie Smith

Student housing and safety in and near the Lincoln Way Corridor were emphasized at a special meeting of the Ames City Council and the Planning and Zoning Commission last Tuesday.

Houseal Lavigne Associates, a corridor planning firm from Chicago, identified these issues uniquely impacting students as two major concerns in the corridor that helped factor into determinations of five areas of concentration for the study as it nears the planning phase.

The Lincoln Way Corridor study started in February after the firm met with council members via Skype to discuss their concerns about the area immediately surrounding the seven-mile stretch of road. As an arterial road, Lincoln Way has become a hub of activity, business and travel for the Ames community.

After discussing the council’s concerns, Houseal Lavigne Associates hosted three public forums to encourage Ames residents, students and business owners to get involved in the corridor planning. The firm also created a website, linked on the city of Ames site under “planning,” where community members could fill out surveys and customize maps of the area with their concerns.

Senior Associate Doug Hammel said they’ve seen a high level of participation from Ames residents, including students, with more than 500 people attending workshops and filling out surveys. However, only eight customized maps have been created on the website.

As the study continues and enters the planning phase, Hammel encouraged community members to continue to express their concerns and desires for the area.

One of the major concerns the firm said it heard “loud and clear” during its public outreach was safety.

Craig Erickson, a landscape architect who works with the firm, said five intersections along Lincoln Way are on a list of 100 intersections in Iowa considered by the Iowa Department of Transportation as safety candidates.

The firm said it heard a lot of demand for improved sidewalks, bike routes and implementation of a “complete streets” policy that would maximize Lincoln Way’s functionality for various modes of traffic, including public transportation, bicycles and pedestrians.

Erickson also said the firm realized the importance of planning for continued, or even accelerated, CyRide growth. CyRide’s ridership has grown by 54 percent since 2005; eight CyRide routes touch on Lincoln Way, while the Red route runs almost entirely on the east-west running road, according to the firm.

Another one of the major concerns the firm said it gathered from public input is a desire for unified character and visual improvements throughout the corridor. The firm’s presentation included a variety of examples of signage, façade and landscaping along Lincoln Way.

Houseal and Lavigne Associates recommended five key areas along Lincoln Way for the city to focus resources. Hammel said the firm will continue to make plans for other areas in the corridor, but hopes these areas will act as catalyst sites where changes and solutions can begin.

The five areas identified span residential, retail and industrial areas. One of the identified areas is what the firm refers to as the Campustown transition, where Campustown meets the surrounding areas of residential and mixed-use development.

Council members voted 6-0 to carry a motion approving the five focus areas the firm suggested. A workshop will be scheduled later in April to invite community members to give more specific input for the focus areas.