Planning Experts Give Update on Downtown Hyannis Redesign

HYANNIS – Planning experts recently provided an update on redesigning downtown Hyannis, including plans to potentially convert many streets from one-way travel to two-way.

City planner and writer Jeff Speck spoke at the January 25 Great Streets Downtown Hyannis meeting and agreed with the community’s desire for two-way streets.

He cited 85 similar downtown reversions he has designed over his career and the benefits that followed. 

“Every reversion we’ve seen from one-way travel back to two-way travel, the streets have become considerably safer, the businesses have flourished, compared to before at least. It’s never caused a congestion problem,” Speck said.  

Speck spoke about a Washington town that made a similar transformation of its main street.

“The number of cars on the streets stayed the same, the amount of revenues to businesses doubled,” Speck said, noting the trend is because people drive more calmly. 

Project consultants from Stantec also spoke at the meeting and addressed how two-way streets would provide more safety for pedestrians.

“When you have to cross two (one-way) lanes you have to pray that when one car stops, the next car stops, and guess what happens? The first car actually blocks the view for the next car. The classic double threat,” Senior Principal Jason Schrieber said. 

The consultants noted that some current traffic and safety concerns are because Hyannis’ roadways are too wide. Drivers tend to travel at higher speeds when lanes are wider than they need to be. 

“We’re hopefully going to go from a very wide set of streets that have a one-way system to a set of narrower, safe 10-foot lanes with two-way circulation on absolutely every one of those streets,” Stantec Senior Principal Jason Schrieber said. 

Schrieber said the extra space from narrowing lanes would provide for more room for additional parking and bike lanes. 

Speck said the consultants have been planning a bike network that “would be comprehensive enough to be useful” that would lead to a bigger cycling population. 

The walkability expert said he didn’t think Hyannis Main Street could be a permanent pedestrian street, but he encouraged the town to extend the hours when it does experiment with open streets which don’t allow for cars.

Plans for reconfiguring the “Six Points” intersection were also presented, with one utilizing a roundabout that could be implemented using existing infrastructure and paint.

Speck clarified that other traffic configurations for the intersection would require more reconstruction.

The team also discussed incorporating more four-way stops instead of traffic signals. 

The team is still refining concepts and is aiming to present its final plans in the spring at another public meeting. 

By Brian Engles, NewsCenter

About Brian Engles

Brian Engles is a longtime local of the Cape. He studied Film & TV at Boston University and in addition to his role at Cape Cod Broadcasting Media, he also works as a music instructor and records original songs.
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