To the editor:
I cannot believe that the city is planning to put brick "bump outs" on yet another street (First Avenue North). They do nothing to make downtown Fort Dodge more inviting. For drivers, they make two parking spaces on each block difficult to use. They make some intersections too narrow for twoway traffic, especially if one of the vehicles is a delivery truck. As it is, delivery trucks either drive over the bump outs, causing curb and brick damage, or they park in the street, restricting the street to one lane traffic. In the winter, the snowplow operators cannot manipulate the plows around the bumps so snow piles, slush, and ice remain, filling parking spots and looking terrible. In an attempt to clear the snow, the plows also chop up the curbing. Anyone exiting a vehicle along Central Avenue must step into or over the accumulated snow and ice. The bump outs probably slow traffic by making the street less driver friendly, but they do nothing to protect the parked vehicles that cannot be maneuvered completely into the end parking spaces or cannot be parked close to the curb because of accumulated snow.
For pedestrians, and for the business owners who are responsible for keeping those bump outs clear, the bricks are a hazard in the winter. They are the first portion of the sidewalk to ice over and become treacherous for pedestrians. Sand, kitty litter, or chicken grit make them even more slippery, have little effect on the icing, and track into the buildings. Ice removal products damage the bricks. When it snows, the bricks are difficult to clear because the uneven bricks catch the snow shovel. They simply cannot be shoveled completely clean. Attempts to shovel the bricks further damages and loosens the bricks. In the summer, those broken and uneven bricks cause tripping and stumbling, even falls.
Finally, the broken or missing bricks and broken curbing are anything but aesthetically pleasing. The bump outs simply are not worth the extra cost of maintenance. Remove bump outs from the plans for any new street projects, use the projected amount to be spent on maintenance to remove the existing ones on Central Avenue, and everyone will be happier!