Pedestrians and bicyclists looking to travel from downtown Rapid City to either Memorial Park or the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center have a major obstacle to face — an extremely busy Omaha Street.
Kip Harrington, long range planner for the city, said Wednesday that Rapid City is looking for solutions to that problem.
The Legal and Finance Committee sent to the City Council a preliminary approval for the mayor and finance officer to enter into an agreement for a $125,000 feasibility study on a safer crossing for Sixth and Omaha streets.
Harrington said the study will look into possibly closing Sixth Street to vehicle traffic at the intersection with Omaha, lowering Omaha to below current street level and building a walkway over Omaha.
“We’ve identified this through our downtown master plan. It has long been the desire of the community to make a better connection between downtown and the Civic Center for people who might like to park and have dinner downtown and then walk to the Civic Center for an event,” Harrington said.
The proposal would create a more pedestrian-friendly promenade and a possible grade-separated intersection at Sixth and Omaha streets, Harrington said.
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“This feasibility study is the first step in making that a reality,” he said.
The Rapid City Council will consider the authorization of the feasibility study Monday night. If approved, it would be completed by Felsburg Holt & Ullevig, a Centennial, Colo.-based company that specializes in transportation planning.
Harrington said if the City Council approves the study, it would begin in late October, with results available in six to eight months.
“We are going to look at all the transportation aspects of this,” Harrington said. “In order to facilitate this, it would require closing the Sixth and Omaha intersection to car traffic (on Sixth Street). We’d still be able to get bikes and pedestrians over there, but this will also have an impact on our transit system. We will look at all of that, see what types of effect it would have on that, and determine whether it is feasible.”
After the study’s completion, the city would look at engineering and costs to realign the intersection — a process that could take several years, Harrington said.