Laura Street Improvements

The major work of the city’s Laura Street improvements, except for a bit of landscaping, should be done by the 24th, in time for the Jazz Festival. Though the streets might be cordoned off for the fest, afterward it should be available for both pedestrians and motorists.
Belgian cobble stones at the intersections from Adams to The Landing are designed to slow motorists, funneling them into the round about in front of the Landing. JEDC Project Manager Paul Crawford acknowledges that the stones might slow cyclists as well but says that “if you were to bicycle there prior to installing the cobblestones, you would have had cars going 50, 60 miles an hour, catching air over some of the intersections.” The slower-paced cars help keep cyclists and pedestrians safer. Pedestrians in heels can choose to walk on the smooth bricked portion of the surfacing as they cross.
Besides more sidewalks and visual impact, improvements for pedestrians include directional kiosks with maps of the immediate area and a helpful directory of businesses. Trees will be surrounded by low maintenance and attractive addapave (porous paving) rather than mulch or grates.
More improvements that are unlikely to impact traffic are slated as part of a separate Downtown Vision, Inc program that will reimburse building owners who improve their facade with lighting, painting, awnings, landscaping and other frontage changes on Laura Street from Monroe to The Landing. Says Pamela Elms, Director of Marketing for DVI, “Our goal is to leverage the city’s investment and spur private investment to enhance the pedestrian environment. While this grant is not directly targeted at business attraction, our hope is that more businesses will want to locate along the street as a result of both the grant program and the city’s Laura Street Streetscape Improvement Project.”
Business owners have a year to apply for the grant to improve their facade, so expect Laura Street to look even better than it does now!