New streetscape enhancements and an art installation by local public artist Cat Peña are helping to reshape the Medical District and Edge neighborhood making streets and intersections like the one at Monroe and Marshall avenues more walkable and pedestrian-friendly.
A free public celebration was held on the afternoon of March 9 to mark the opening of the art installation, which features a huge wave of blue streamers flying over the intersection. The fluttering installation is titled “There’s More to be Proud Of.”
The Memphis Medical District Collaborative has partnered with the City of Memphis to create a pedestrian plaza at Monroe and Marshall avenues.
The MMDC and the Edge neighborhood approached the city about doing a more formalized version of the highly successful MEMFix community revitalization event held in October 2014.
“We want this to be a walkable neighborhood,” said Steven Edwards, engineer with the City of Memphis who worked to shrink the wide intersection. “We’ll be able to take lessons learned from this project and apply them to other areas of the city,”
He cites the University of Memphis area and Orange Mound as places that have requested walkable streetscape improvements.
At Monroe and Marshall, new striping and crosswalks were painted, and adding a bump out area with large concrete planters, benches, café tables and seating shrunk the cornering radius for automobiles driving through the intersection.
Similar enhancements were also completed at Pauline Street and Jefferson Avenue and Pauline and Madison Avenue.
“If you make that more restricted, drivers will slow down,” said Edwards. “Dropping the radius down to about 15 feet means a car will go about 10 miles per hour. Anything faster than that will get more uncomfortable. So that gives them more time to sight a pedestrian before they go across the crosswalk.
It makes a much safer environment and makes everybody feel a lot better about being here.”
The metal poles supporting the art exhibit are from the old traffic light that had hung at the stop. Those poles were adapted to be able to hold the weight of the art installation, which would become extra heavy with snow, ice, or heavy winds. Two new wooden poles were also added to provide the additional needed support.
More streetscape improvements throughout the Medical District and Edge neighborhood will be happening over the next few years as part of the area’s master development plan. The MMDC started with renovating seven intersections last year and hopes to be able to redo five to ten per year.