Lowering the Dunes
The Boardwalk Committee's resolution about lowering the beach dunes in Atlantic City so that those walking on the Boardwalk will be able to see the beach and the ocean, and not feel they are in an alley with buildings on one side and high sand dunes on the other side, has been getting support.
In Monday's daily paper, an editorial headline stated, "Our View: A.C.'s two-tall dunes/A reasonable request." It noted the history of the dunes and repeated the fact that the Boardwalk Committee is complaining that the dunes are too high. It included a statement that was made by me, as chairman of the Boardwalk Committee: "We're asking to reestablish the beauty of Atlantic City for those who come here to see the waves breaking and get the sweet smell of the sea." It also included the question, "What legal steps need to be taken to get one-time permission to lower the dunes a foot or two?"
Whatever they are, you can be assured that the Boardwalk Committee, working with all the elected officials, public entities and organizations, will strive to do what needs to be done to achieve its goal of lowering the dunes. To date, I have contacted Mayor Lorenzo Langford, members of City Council, Gov. Jon Corzine's aide, Sen. James Whelan and assemblymen John Amodeo and Vince Polistina. I will be contacting U.S. senators Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg and Congressman Frank LoBiondo to enlist their aid with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Hopefully next week's column will have an update on the progress being made to accomplish our goal. You can help by writing to the elected officials noted above, and to the editors of the various area newspapers that serve this area. I urge you to get involved in helping to restore the view on the Boardwalk. The will of the public is said to be able to move mountains. All we are asking is to trim the dunes so that we might enjoy the views of the ocean and the beach.
I only received one response to my column on Pacific and Atlantic avenues becoming one-way streets in Atlantic City, but it is one worth reading. The letter, from Earl Warman, states: "I think it would be much better to keep those avenues running two ways for the following reasons. 1. Pedestrian Safety -- studies have shown that pedestrians are of greater risk of being struck by vehicles on one-way roads. One reason for this is that drivers in distant lanes of one-way roads do not have a good view of people who have already started crossing the street before the light changes. Such pedestrians get trapped among vehicles that have begun moving. Reports that claim one-way streets are safer than two-way streets are not applicable to Atlantic Avenue because those studies have not focused on the wide roads (like Atlantic). 2. At present, casino patrons can access all the casinos along Pacific Avenue by taking a jitney in either direction. If Pacific became one way toward the inlet, tourists who wish to go down beach on Pacific would have to walk to Atlantic and cross the wide street to use public transportation. They would have to use the side streets to get to Atlantic every time they visit a downbeach casino. This would be a special hardship for the elderly and infirm, and could be a safety issue late at night. 3. Although decades ago there was a movement toward moving vehicles through cities as quickly as possible, urban planners now realize that traffic within cities should be calm, not accelerated. Acceleration of local traffic causes drivers to overlook local stores, so shops lose business. In addition, drivers lose interest in shopping locally because they often must circle the block of their destination. Many U.S. cities that have created one-way streets to speed up traffic are changing them back to two-way because they have found that two-way streets are more 'user friendly' for walking and shopping. A return to two-way avenues have been completed or planned for Austin, Berkeley, Cambridge, Cincinnati, Louisville, Palo Alto, Chattanooga, Sacramento, Seattle, and Tampa, among other cities. In summary, converting Atlantic and Pacific avenues to one-way thoroughfares would have undesirable [and] unintended consequences for pedestrians, local traffic, and local businesses. Let's keep those roads running both ways."
Included with his letter was a story from USA Today, dated Dec. 20, 2006, that ran under the headline "That's how Danville (Ill.) Wants It." The story states that the city of 33,000 is converting some of its longtime one-way streets back to two-way thoroughfares. City officials hope the change will make it easier for customers to reach downtown stores and shopping.
The city's engineer said, "The driving force behind it is economic development." He noted motorists tend to drive faster on one-way streets and go past their destination, then lose time and their patience backtracking. Danville is one of hundreds of cities switching one-way streets to two-way to increase commerce downtown, according to the American Planning Association in Chicago. The trend started rolling in the early 1990s and has expanded this year to bigger cities such as Miami, Dallas and Minneapolis. The following are excerpts of a research article that were included in an e-mail from the American Journal of Public Health: "In many pedestrian crashes, the driver reportedly does not see the pedestrian before the accident." The Journal of the Institute of Engineers notes: "Crossing a one-way street presents greater difficulties for the pedestrian than crossing two-way streets." The Federal Transportation Research Board adds: "In traffic engineering circles the operational disadvantages associated with one-way streets are becoming increasingly recognized, due to speed and pedestrian expectations at intersections."