EAST PEORIA — The city is studying changes to the Four Corners area that would ease traffic flow through the Main and Washington streets intersection and open up easy-access parking to the businesses there.
"The study is really just an extension to some of the attention we've given to the area in recent years," said Ty Livingston, the city's director of planning and community development. "We're are always looking for ways to provide connectivity with the area and the nearby Levee District."
A few years ago, when businesses in the Levee District were opening up, merchants in the Four Corners area noticed an uptick in traffic around East Washington and Main, Livingston said. Business owners met with planners on a regular basis on ways to improve the area, and about seven or eight owners took advantage of a small matching loan to spruce up facades with awnings and other aesthetic upgrades.
Now they are looking for ways to upgrade parking and traffic, including looking at a "street diet" that would reduce the 100 block of East Washington that is a tightly-squeezed four lanes to two lanes, a middle turning lane and on-street parking. Under such a plan, traffic would be diverted to Springfield Road.
"Everything is conceptual right now," Livingston said.
The study is paid for with a $33,000 grant procured by the Tri-County Planning Commission. Midwest Engineering Associates, which is headquartered in the 100 block of East Washington, was hired to do the study and create conceptual plans. Midwest and the city will host a public meeting on the Four Corners project on Monday.
"As engineers, we are presented with a problem. One of the first things we do is observe the situation, but we have a limited view compared to people who live and work there. With public input you can have hundreds of pairs of eyes on the problem compared to one or two," said Caitlyn Allyn, the project manager with Midwest Engineering Associates. "Public input is especially great for a project like this because we are looking at a compact area with a lot going on. It's all about gaining accurate perspective of the situation. If I know the wants and needs of all the stakeholders, we can make better judgments throughout the whole improvement process."
Allyn said the Four Corners District was last improved in the late 1970s when transportation design was focused on vehicular traffic. Times have changed.
"The city wants to look at all users of the public infrastructure — vehicles, pedestrians, first responders, transit services and more — and find a solution that best addresses everyone's needs."
There are currently no funding sources to actually construct whatever conceptual design the study produces, Livingston said.
"That's still down the road," he said.
Scott Hilyard can be reached at 686-3244 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @scotthilyard on Twitter.