CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston used to be a walkable city, and could be made walkable again, developmental consultant Craig Gossman said Thursday.
Gossman, a principal architect with the firm msi|kkg and one of the lead consultants hired to create downtown redevelopment and comprehensive plans for Charleston, has been meeting with various "stakeholder" groups this week to gather information for those plans.
"You look at historical photos, and Charleston was a very walkable city," Gossman said.
Through urban renewal and efforts to get vehicles in and out of downtown quickly, though, streets were widened and made one-way.
"When you walk out of City Hall, you better watch out or you'll get hit by a hood ornament," he said. "You know it wasn't designed that way.
"Washington or Lee [street] is like being on the Interstate. There are no visual cues to make you want to slow down."
Gossman said he's already heard plenty about Kanawha Boulevard.
"Everybody talks about the Boulevard: 'We don't want the traffic to go so fast; build more benches so we can sit and watch the river.' Others say they want to keep the traffic moving fast. I don't know what the right balance is. I don't think it makes sense as a highway."
Ted Armbrecht, a member of the Charleston Land Trust, said there are fewer speed advocates each year.
"Just look at the obituaries," he said.
"It would be great if you could come back with a very strong plan: 'Do this with the Boulevard.' There have been recommendations that there is an excess lane on the Boulevard."