A portion of 4th street between between North Diamond and North Main Street in downtown Mansfield will open Friday afternoon as part of a three-week long behavior study to see how pedestrians responds to a more pedestrian-friendly down town area.

MANSFIELD -- Downtown Mansfield will be more walkable for the next two weeks.

The Richland County Regional Planning Commission removed barricades Friday afternoon, once paint dried on the portion of 4th Street between North Diamond and North Main Street in downtown Mansfield.

"The project is a temporary demonstration of what a pedestrian-friendly space could do for downtown," said Jotika Shetty, executive director of the RCRPC.

Shetty added that in certain stretches of Fourth Street in the downtown area, the sidewalk was narrow.

"Especially with fences and telephone poles, couples could not walk through," she said. "We wanted to see what could become of the space."

The three-week project will attempt to show downtown pedestrians and merchants what is possible with a more walker-friendly experience.

The sidewalks are extended over parking spaces on the north-side (building side) of the street with tables and flower pots to entice patrons to sit and spend time downtown.

"Research shows businesses do better with more pedestrian action," Shetty said. 

There will still be plenty of parking downtown, Shetty said. Spots on the south-side of Fourth Street will still be available; there is also public parking in the free, 12-hour municipal lot.

Downtown parking lot expands free spaces for public use

This cross walk was created to funnel those who cross the street in the middle of the road to a more safe, and driver recognized part of the road.

The temporary project includes a ramp onto the street allowing easier access for handicap pedestrians and a crosswalk painted in the middle of the block.

"What we did notice is a lot of street crossing happens all over the street," Shetty said. "We thought if we could funnel pedestrians to the same spot to cross, it would be a bit safer, and we could have drivers realize they needed to slow down."

The new crosswalk was painted by local artists Thursday evening. Shetty said having a visual component was a key part of the project.

"We are sensory people," she said. "When things look fresh and pretty, it draws people.

"We are taking a public space view as utilitarian and putting in a sensory location. It's more exciting. We want to add something fun to the downtown area."

The project is one of the ideas suggested in the Mansfield Rising Plan, which was written by 15 Richland County leaders and released earlier this year. The pop-up project was funded by the Richland County Foundation. 

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Staff Reporter

Noah Jones is host to The Open Mic Podcast -- available on Apple Podcasts! He is the crime, education and music reporter for Richland Source. He is a native of St. Louis, Missouri and a giant Cardinals fan.