Advisory Committee meets, tables vote

By Marissa Novel

The Downtown Advisory Committee discussed several potential changes and proposals regarding transportation in Carbondale at its Wednesday meeting.

Gary Williams, economic development coordinator for the city, said plans for a new Amtrak station have been discussed since May 2013 and are still in the conceptual stages.

“As far as the façades and the exterior planning, all that is subject to change,” he said. “We’ll start a public process soon where we’ll get peoples input on what they’d like for it to look like.”


Williams said the station may include a location for a prospective bike share lot. He said the current station, built in 1980, seats 40 people and is designed for 175 riders daily, while daily Carbondale ridership is 380.

A new station would need 10,000 square feet and two floors, Williams said.

Kris Schachel, a member of the transportation focus group, said the university will implement a proposal allocating seven bike-fixing stations on campus this spring. The stations will provide tools such as air pumps and an instructional quick response code.

“If you need help with your bike and you’re not quite sure about what you’re doing, you can scan it and actually get instructions on how to tighten your key or adjust your chain,” she said.

Williams said two phases for bike paths are in motion and will be built next year.

One path will run from Main Street by the Newell House down to Mill Street. The other will run from Mill Street past the Recreation Center onto campus, he said.

At the meeting, the committee decided to table the vote on centralizing five main issues of transportation after taking public opinion and comments for two hours.


To vote, committee members were asked to rank their top five issues out of the 33 total proposed. 70 community members attended the beginning of the meeting and less than half remained for its closing.

Carl Rexroad, 61, said making University Avenue a two-way road should be the committee’s top priority.

“It seems to me everything flows out of there, parking, bikes and pedestrians,” he said. “I think the group needs to determine if that can happen, if it wants it to happen and if it should happen, how would they make it happen.”

City Councilman Lee Fronabarger said the Illinois Department of Transportation should be contacted immediately about the two-way road change.

“It should be presented by someone not from city hall but the downtown business community and the community of Carbondale as a whole should request that change so we have a dedicated downtown street again,” Fronabarger said.

Nick Smaligo, 31, of Carbondale, said the committee should be careful with the decisions it implements. He said the community and committee should be creative with the revitalization process, especially in relation to protecting the environment.

Carbondale residents also voiced an interest for transportation programs for disabled people. Dean Reece, 28, said he has trouble getting around in his motorized chair that travels at a maximum of 6 mph.

“I see Ace Taxi running around everywhere but there’s no taxi service for people in motorized chairs like myself,” he said.

Reece said he lives on East College, and has to leave 30 minutes early to attend meetings at the Communications Building on campus. He said if a transportation program existed, his daily life would be smoother.

The next meeting, concerning the interfaces of the hospital and the university, will be held at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 1 at Morris Library. Six more DAC meetings will continue through the year.

Marissa Novel can be reached at [email protected], on Twitter @marissanovelDE or at 536-3311 ext. 268.