For more information, see History and Facts and Selling Streets is Bad Policy.
You can help stop Newcomb Boulevard from being converted to a one way by writing the City Council and opposing the proposed Ordinance to convert it to a one-way. Here are the email addresses of the Council:
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HERE ARE THE FACTS AND SOME ISSUES TO WRITE ABOUT:
Anordinance drafted by the Administration, to convert Newcomb Boulevard to a
one-way, will be voted on by the City Council. I was provided with a report from the
City Traffic Engineer, dated March 5, 2014, which opines that conversion to a "one-way lakebound operation is recommended."
The proposed ordinance and the traffic engineer's study, available on our "Documents" page or by clicking the links below, raise several questions.
First, the March 5 report states that the number of vehicles using Newcomb before the closure at Freret was "significantly larger than what is normally expected on a standard residential street." This is contrary to the 2005 USI (Urban Systems, Inc.) study paid for by the City, which was the last study performed before the street was illegally closed. The USI study concluded that the traffic levels on Newcomb were "normal and not excessive." A 1994 study conducted by City traffic engineers found that the street had "light to moderate traffic volumes." As noted in the most recent study, only 71-72 non-local vehicles use Newcomb in the peak morning and evening hours. At a little more than a car a minute, traffic volume, even during peak hours, can hardly be said to be high. Thus, the very premise of the proposal, that high traffic levels create serious conflicts, is contrary to facts found in earlier studies.
Second, no complaints about "conflicts" were never made in the eight years of litigation. Only after the courts ordered the street reopened did the alleged "safety concerns" of residents shift from speeding to "conflicts." A conflict occurs when vehicles moving in opposite directions meet. These conflicts are successfully navigated every day by New Orleanians. The fact that these "conflicts" were only recently raised is suspicious, suggesting that they are trumped up to provide a reason to meet the administration's desire to placate the residents of Newcomb Boulevard, and not to meet traffic engineering standards.
Third, the conversion to a one-way will only make speeding on Newcomb worse. Newcomb residents complained vociferously about alleged speeding, but never about conflicts. However, cars tend to speed more on a one-way than on a two-way street, and a 1994 report (by City Traffic Engineers) noted that conversion of Newcomb to a one-way would likely "promote the practice of speeding." Thus, conversion to a one-way will only make the major complaint of residents, speeding, worse.
Fourth, the recommendation will only dump more traffic on Broadway, Audubon, and other area streets. Broadway was studied recently, and was found to rank a "level of service" -- a traffic engineering measurement of traffic flow -- of C+, whereas in 1994, it was ranked an "A." Obviously, Broadway does not need additional traffic from Newcomb. No recent studies of Audubon St. have been done, and the effect of the conversion of Newcomb to a one-way on Audubon is thus unmeasured.
Fifth, the report recommends that the one-way conversion be done on a "trial basis." An ordinance is not needed to do a closure on a "trial basis," and the DPW frequently makes changes in streets on a "trial basis." So why is the Administration putting the cart (the ordinance) before the horse (a trial conversion)?
Sixth, though the residents of thirty-five houses on Newcomb were surveyed as to their desires, no survey was conducted of residents of other area streets, or of other citizens who use the street to get to their destinations. Will residents of other streets also be allowed to vote as to whether their streets will be one-way, and if so, as to the direction of travel? Why should the franchise be limited to the residents of Newcomb? The Master Plan policy of "connectivity," cited in the staff report, supports maintaining as many connections as possible on all of our streets.
Because there are no valid traffic reasons for the conversion, it can only be assumed that this administration-requested conversion is proposed for political purposes. The City Attorney, who sided with Newcomb residents in defending the clearly illegal and unconstitutional fence, and who intentionally violated the court order to remove the fence, drafted the ordinance. This ordinance should be defeated and, before it would ever be reconsidered, thorough measurements of traffic on all area streets should be made, and a trial closure conducted to definitively determine the effect of the conversion of Newcomb to a one-way on other area streets.
As several members of the Planning Commission remarked earlier this month, limitations on traffic on Newcomb will only push the problems experienced on Newcomb onto other area streets. We need to seek area-wide solutions to the problems experienced by residents of all streets in the University area, not piecemeal fixes limited to the residents of one street.
A few general points:
Conditions on Newcomb are no different from those on other area streets. Traffic and parking problems should be solved with area-wide solutions, not with street closures. The closure of Newcomb merely pushes those problems on other streets.
The street grid system serves the function of dispersing traffic evenly and should be preserved. New Orleans should not go from being a City known for its urbanist charm, open grid, and lively pedestrian traffic to just another series of hard-to-navigate suburban cul-de-sacs.