Improved pedestrian circulation is critical to the success of the parking improvements as well as to providing increased safety and an attractive downtown streetscape. Attractive, direct pedestrian walkways between the improved and existing parking areas and the courthouse and Main Street businesses are essential. The pedestrian improvements are depicted on Exhibit D, the core area master plan, and also diagrammed on the following pedestrian circulation exhibit. Some primary improvements include:
- Overall improvement in walks along Main Street by improving grades; curb definition and walking surface. Removal of overhead poles will also increase safe walking width, since the sidewalk space is narrow.
- Enhanced pedestrian crosswalks across Main Street at Cemetery Street, in front of the Town Hall, and at Mountain Road. The primary crosswalk at the Town Hall includes a median "rest area."
- A pedestrian walk continuing from the Town Hall crosswalk between the buildings on the east side of Main Street to the Houston Street parking area.
- A pedestrian walk in the open area between the Town Hall and the Exxon station to the regional jail public parking.
Pedestrian Circulation Recommendations
- Connect Public Parking Areas to Main Street
- Create Safe Pedestrian Crosswalks
- Create Public Plazas
- Tie to Overall Greenway Plan
- A pedestrian walk behind the Town Hall to the Edmunds Boulevard entrance to the Courthouse Green.
- A pedestrian walk between the retail shops and Patient Transport opposite the Mountain Road intersection to provide direct access to the Houston Street parking area.
The pedestrian circulation diagram also includes a diagram of proposed greenspace walking connections to the downtown area. Halifax has considerable historic interest and a beautiful walk in front of the historic houses along Mountain Road. A greenspace walkway that would connect this walk to the downtown area would not only encourage residents of the Town to walk to the downtown, but would also provide an activity for visitors to the region, allowing the Town to benefit from the increased interest in heritage tourism.
Another important element of pedestrian circulation is the provision of "public spaces" along the streetscape. The Town has the beginning of a series of these spaces with the new Memorial Park at the corner of Main Street and Mountain road and the historic Courthouse Green. The Courthouse Green should be made more accessible visually and physically by the removal of the brick wall that was not part of the original building concept. The County is also considering other improvements to the circulation and design of the Green itself.
During the planning process the desire for a location for public events was expressed. The recommended location for this function is the space between the Exxon station and the Town Hall. This underutilized space was the drive-through for the bank that previously utilized the building. The drive area directly adjacent to the Exxon station extending from Main Street to the regional jail provides access to the Town police parking lot and needs to remain open. The proposed design for the public plaza is shown on the following exhibit. Major features of the design include:
- Removal of the canopy and the paving throughout the site.
- Realignment of the police parking lot to allow pedestrian access to the Courthouse Green behind the Town Hall.
- Development of an open lawn area with ornamental trees and seating areas on the perimeter. The open site will allow space for public events.
- A developed paved seating area along the front of the site continuous with the plaza in front of the Town Hall. This will provide a major seating area directly on Main Street.
- Stamped asphalt paving on the through drive aisle providing an enhanced signed access to the regional jail public parking area. This should be the primary access for court visitor and workers to reach the parking area. The drive may be closed off for special events, providing a large gathering area, since the police parking lot also has access from the rear.
- Planting screening between the Exxon site and the new public plaza.