Life-long Fraser resident and Ace Hardware Sage Fred Benson has the best theory behind the construction hub-bub on US 40 through town. “They are building a wall to keep mice from going from one side of town to the other,” Benson says. To many this makes about as much sense as anything else when viewing the disruption to downtown.
I don’t write many columns as a Fraser Trustee, but this is one. Our Board worked with citizens diligently over the last five years to re-design downtown. Many open houses invited input to this process. Now we are making these ideas “concrete”. I believe we will end up with a better highway/main street – by any measure a challenging combination.
Life-long area and long-time town resident Dick Samuelson expressed what I call the “two-lane” remembrance of our town. He, along with me in many ways, would like to go back to the days when a two-lane US 40 main street (Zerex) allowed for wide shoulders and calm off-season afternoons when a dog might nap in the middle of the only sun-warmed pavement in town.
I pointed out we might remember those days as peaceful but economically challenging. I discussed with Dick how the young families and energetic folks moving to town, and those like his son Ehren who have chosen to remain here – deserve as many opportunities as we might facilitate. Accepting the premise of growth means our heavy lift is to make sure our town functions well as the population climbs.
Others who pull me aside at the post office argue we are giving up too much precious pavement to allow pedestrians safe passage as they navigate our increasingly crazy main street.
I argue we should design our community to be human – not vehicle centered. I bike from my house behind Grand Mountain Bank to the post office daily – and have more times than I can count been nearly crushed by a four-wheeled iron chariot. I am certain if I had not been paying attention, I’d be road kill by now. I wonder how in the hell a child manages to safely navigate our crosswalks.
If we are to enjoy an increasingly busy future in our wonderful town, we must make parking a car and walking a respected method of transport. The only way to do that is to properly design all our streets, including what one planning session participant called a main street which resembled a Wall Mart parking lot.
“Why not reduce the speed limit?” many have asked me during these frequent “what is going on in downtown” discussions. Every traffic engineer will tell you the best way to slow a driver down is to slightly confuse them. Visual clues like varying width traffic islands along with landscaping (to be added to our medians next year) trigger the “slow-down” driver reflex.
An open right lane, like the three block stretch we had north (west) bound through town invited the heavy footed pilot to make a quick pass on the right – leaving the poor soul crossing Zerex threatened by the yahoo accelerating through a right-hand pass of the kind driver who had stopped for a pedestrian. Again, would an inexperienced younger person think to look for Parnelli Jones racing down the home stretch as they attempted to dash to the blessed curb beyond?
I would suggest you enjoy the construction show. In our two-lane days the only motorized entertainment we had was the annual Fraser Valley Rally or following the fire trucks as they sped off to a rare disaster.
Most of all, leave the confines of your metal steed and enjoy a stroll to any one of the many new distilleries, brew pubs or other new Fraser businesses. A new main street will foster a re-invigorated Fraser we all can enjoy. After the dust settles, I believe you’ll love Funky Fraser’s new Zerex Street.