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Public input sought on Douglas underpass project

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, at 2:35 p.m.

The public can weigh in for the first time on the future of the historic downtown Douglas Avenue railroad underpass during a 5:30 p.m. public meeting Feb. 13 at the Wichita Downtown Development Corp., 505 E. Douglas.

Work has begun on design concepts, funded by a $75,000 grant from the Knight Foundation. The WDDC has hired LawKingdon Architecture to lead the design team.

The vision, led by the WDDC, is to transform the eyesore into an information-activated gateway into downtown, said Jeff Fluhr, president of the WDDC.

The project targets the dark, filthy, brick-lined walkway under the railroad bridge that crosses Douglas, home to hundreds of pigeons.

It’s the latest cooperative project between the local foundation, Knight and the WDDC.

The tentative plan is to “activate” the foot traffic under the old railroad bridge with electronic interactive signs, art, advertisements and lighting to bring the walkway in line with positive moves made by the city and investors along Douglas.

Fluhr envisions a series of electronic interactive boards on the white walls underneath the bridge. Those boards could tell downtown walkers the events of the day or week and gauge their opinions on possible downtown changes.

It’s a project that would retain the historic structural qualities of the bridge, while driving away the birds with an organic substance that would not harm them. The ideas come from an eclectic collection of American cities, from the electronic signage of New York to Des Moines’ successful battle against pigeons.

For information on the public meeting, call 316-264-6005 or visit http://www.downtownwichita.org.

Reach Bill Wilson at 316-268-6290 or bwilson@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @bwilsoneagle.

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