Once again, the Charlottesville Downtown Mall crossing streets are under scrutiny. Dueling petitions have been launched: Some people say the streets are too big a risk to accept; others maintain with equal fervor that they are a necessary feature to allow for safe pickup/drop-off points, easy access to the mall for delivery drivers, and improved access for the elderly or differently abled.
The City of Charlottesville already has studied the safety and efficiency of the crossings. And with more street closures and road projects in the works, the mall crossings will end up becoming even more vital — especially as the Belmont Bridge work begins.
My first duty is to the viability and performance of my business, located on 4th St NE, just steps off the mall. This allows me to pay my employees, my vendors and my taxes, and to support causes I hold dear.
My business exists to serve and support clients from Charlottesville and beyond. I specifically selected my location on one of the crossing streets based on the perceived access to parking and easy shopping, and we have benefitted from the drive-past traffic tremendously.
I respectfully disagree with the idea that the crossing should be closed out of respect for the irreparable harm done to the Heather Heyer, who was killed there, and to her family and so many others. Closing the mall crossings will not undo the damage done; instead, it will spread more damage to our city by increasing barriers to the Downtown Mall and impeding the free flow of people and goods.
To serve the memories of those affected by a horrible tragedy, we must improve the safety of all our streets. Closing down any street because of a terrorist attack is truly a nuclear response.
Outside of a terrorist incident, the mall crossings may be the safest intersections in Charlottesville for pedestrians to cross.
However, we have an existing study that pointed to safety improvements that have never been made. Let’s make those improvements to ensure that all visitors to the Downtown Mall are safe, no matter how they arrive.
Improvements for the mall crossings were suggested in 2007, and we have a responsibility to make those improvements now.
Megan M. Giltner