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Hanover St. plan: Be careful where this goes
Manchester’s city fathers have voted to close down a small section of Hanover Street for a few summer weekend evenings starting in mid-July. It is a “pilot” program. We hope it doesn’t get cleared for takeoff.
Every few years, it seems, some city or another decides that the answer to its problems is to block off some of its downtown streets from the vehicular traffic for which they were built. (Horse-drawn buggies and trolley cars plied Hanover Street before the Model T arrived.)
And every few years thereafter, those cities announce that making vehicular access difficult wasn’t such a good idea at all.
In this case, only half the block between Chestnut and Elm will be closed to cars. But that still may make it difficult to access the Citizens Bank garage, which is an attractive and free parking spot on weekends. You will be able to leave the garage via Hanover Street, but to get to it, you will need to go up the one-way Manchester Street.
Advocates of this program say people will be able to walk freely on Hanover Street. Well, the sidewalks there are pretty wide right now.
One alderman said it was also difficult to cross Elm Street, suggesting that may be the next target of the pedestrian patrol. What will follow? Mayor Gatsas turns into Mayor Bloomberg and bans the Big Gulp?
This idea seems on a par with the persistent problems for restaurants in the Arms Park area when access is blocked or inhibited with apparently little regard for those businesses.
If this pilot program is to be a fair assessment of its worth, then it ought to include a thorough survey of motorists’ reactions as well as those of the weekend Hanover Street diner.
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