Some 49 years ago, Linda Krueger Krtek was the last to take a ride on Market Street through downtown Redding.
On Wednesday, she was the first.
During the half-century between those trips, three blocks of Market Street were closed to traffic, a roof was raised to create an enclosed mall and downtown’s core pretty much became an afterthought.
All that became (relatively) ancient history on a bright and blustery day as Mayor Erin Resner used a pair of oversized scissors to cut a red ribbon and once again open Market Street to cars, bicycles and pedestrians.
It was the symbolic completion of the Downtown Streets Circulation Project, a two-year makeover meant to bring traffic, shoppers, diners, residents and energy back into a three-block section of town that had seen little of the above for years.
Complementing the circulation project is development of the $42 million Market Center, a four-story mixed-use building on the site of the former Dicker’s department store, and the in-progress Block 7 project that will add more apartments and retail space on California Street where the parking structure once stood.
After listing the new sidewalks, streets, lights and landscaping that went into the circulation project, Resner smiled broadly and welcomed onlookers to “the new face of our downtown.”
In reviewing Market Street’s history, City Manager Barry Tippin said the downtown mall was not a mistake but rather an emphatic sign that Redding was not giving up on its downtown. A couple decades later, when it became clear the mall had outlived its usefulness, the city again focused its energy on Market Street and created “an incredibly special downtown.”
John Truitt, executive director of Viva Downtown, listed some of the features of downtown Redding that go beyond streets and sidewalks, including Shasta College’s Health Sciences and University Center, some of the top chefs in the north state, craft brewers, state-of-the-art recording studios and makers’ spaces.
“Keep coming back,” Truitt said, “because the best is yet to come.”
For her christening ride on the newly reopened street, Krtek boarded a 1914 Mitchell touring car driven by Don Howell of Cottonwood.
She was followed by Resner in a 1910 Buick Model 17 driven by Tom Gandy of Palo Cedro. Redding police officers, a fire truck and cyclists followed in short order.
“This is an exciting moment for the entire Redding community, one that will breathe new life into the heart of downtown Redding,” Deputy City Manager Steve Bade said in a prepared statement. “The reopening of these streets is more than just a physical reopening. This historical moment represents Redding’s movement into a future that is functional and welcoming to locals and visitors alike—one that is more conducive to downtown living, small business, tourism and varied modes of transportation.”
Although vehicle traffic is allowed on Market, Butte and Yuba streets, it’s not a free-for-all. The new circulation patterns allow the following:
Market is one-way (southbound) from Tehama to Butte; between Butte and Yuba it is two-way.
Yuba is two-way from Pine Street to the alley separating California and Market.
Butte is two-way between Market and the alley separating Pine and Market; it is one-way (westbound) between Market and the alley separating California and Market.
DASH, the free downtown shuttle service, continues to operate. Shuttle cars complete two distinct loops every 8 to 10 minutes and operate weekdays from 6:45 to 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. For route info, visit www.cityofredding.org/dash
A video of Wednesday’s ceremony is available on Viva Downtown’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/vivadowntownredding