With the Covid-19 pandemic having “drastically changed the landscape of how we live, work, play and dine for the foreseeable future,” the City of Morgan Hill is revisiting the idea of a “complete streets” makeover of the downtown, according to city staff.
The city has scheduled a series of online and in-person community meetings to gather input and opinions, and answer questions from businesses, property owners and residents about “creating a more walkable, safer, accessible and inviting downtown area,” says an email newsletter from the City of Morgan Hill.
City officials are considering making improvements on Monterey Road through the downtown area that would “improve the safety and overall vitality” of the neighborhood, says the newsletter.
The upcoming meetings will culminate with the May 19 city council meeting, where officials will discuss specific options for “traffic calming” and other safety improvements on Monterey Road.
Three upcoming meetings are scheduled as follows:
– Downtown Monterey Road Visioning Summit: 9am to 11am April 23, at MOHI Social. Panelists will offer their experience on “transforming downtowns from a thoroughfare into a destination.” Local business owners and entrepreneurs will discuss their long-term visions for downtown Morgan Hill. Registration is required for both in-person attendance and online participation. Those interested can sign up online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/downtown-monterey-road-visioning-summit-tickets-150636629213.
– Virtual Community Town Hall meeting: 5:30pm to 6:30pm May 6 at MOHI Social. City staff will share info gathered at the April 23 summit, and discuss the potential safety benefits of reconfiguring Monterey Road to provide space for businesses, residents and visitors to gather.
Those who want to participate in this meeting may do so by joining the virtual meeting at https://bit.ly/Communitytownhall or calling in to (669) 900-9128 and enter the webinar id: 828 0731 9295#.
– City Council meeting: 7pm May 19. City staff will present options to the elected council for safety improvements on Monterey Road through downtown. Those who would like to participate in this meeting may do so by joining the virtual meeting at https://bit.ly/MHCityCouncilMeeting or calling in to (669) 900-9128, then enter the webinar id: 873 3200 8380#.
Downtown Morgan Hill pedestrian and cyclist safety has long been a concern among city officials as the neighborhood has become more of an attraction in recent years. In 2015, the city conducted a six-month “road diet” experiment that closed one lane in each direction of Monterey Road to vehicle traffic through downtown. Restaurants and business owners used the street parking and outside traffic lanes to expand their commercial spaces and dining patios.
The council declined to implement the road diet permanently or on a long-term basis, but has installed numerous other pedestrian safety and traffic slowing features to the downtown streets. These include a red light at Monterey Road and Fourth Street, push-button flashing lights at crosswalks, narrower vehicle lanes and more bicycle parking.
The city is now revisiting the “complete streets” discussion after the Covid-19 pandemic has moved significant portions of daily commerce, entertainment and recreation outdoors, thus offering a chance to create more space for small businesses to operate downtown, according to city staff.
One of the key concerns about previous efforts to slow downtown traffic has been the lack of a bypass around the west side of downtown, thus resulting in even more bottlenecks for commuter traffic. Earlier this month, contractors for the city began construction on the Hale Avenue extension project, which will be designed to provide a smoother route to move vehicles around the west side of town.