Anchored by residential areas east of 12th Street and the Illinois State Capitol to the west, Capitol Avenue is a unique transportation corridor, serving as a traffic artery – carrying approximately 5,000 vehicles per day – as well as a ceremonial corridor.
In 2002, the Regional/Urban Design Assistance Team delivered a report to the city of Springfield emphasizing the importance of renovating Capitol Avenue to revitalize Springfield’s downtown.
The city of Springfield, Ill., selected Hanson to provide design and streetscape improvements for Capitol Avenue’s redevelopment. Hanson’s services included corridor development, planning, surveying, geotechnical analysis, traffic impact studies and contract document preparation for the project. An in-depth community involvement program also was included to increase public input for this high-profile project.
Critical to the success of the Capitol Avenue improvement project was recognizing strategic connections that link the avenue to downtown attractions and activity areas, including historic sites, commercial and entertainment areas, and adjacent residential neighborhoods. Identifying these elements required discussions with the city of Springfield, downtown business property owners, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, downtown interest groups and the state of Illinois.
To respect the monumental scale of the Capitol, Hanson’s team developed the street and the walkways as one grand promenade, eliminating the parallel parking while providing two lanes for the movement of vehicular traffic. Intentionally minimizing the division between vehicles and pedestrians yet functionally respecting these conflicting uses, this 80-foot-wide corridor is the stage for special events. Traffic signals, tied to the city's traffic control system, were replaced at intersections. Curb extensions were constructed at all intersections to reduce pedestrian crossing distances and enhance the distinctive quality of the new corridor.
A roundabout – the first of its kind in Springfield – was constructed at the intersection of Capitol Avenue and 12th Street, representing the transition from the downtown business district to the east-side residential area. This renovated corridor has enhanced the downtown area for tourists, citizens and businesses alike.
The Capitol Avenue corridor redevelopment was inspired by an integrated design philosophy, which respects the story of the Capitol, reflects the spirit of the community, and creates a catalyst for economic development. The revitalized street provides the Capitol with a red carpet-stimulating opportunity for community life, social interactions and interpretation of the story of Illinois, Springfield and its residents.