Rick Hall, Hall Planning & Engineering, Inc. –
It was 1984 and engineer Rick Hall accepted a project that would change his life and impact communities across the country. The Seaside DRI in Walton County, Florida was the first New Urbanism project in the world. The goal was to reverse the growing auto-only pattern that had accelerated rapidly since the 1940’s. For Rick Hall, this game-changing project inspired him to focus his career on championing “walkability.” One of the leading forces in the field, Hall is now partnering with RMA on various endeavors including the Broadway Corridor project.
“The Seaside project helped with the formation of the Congress for the New Urbanism,” explained Hall. “It focused on creating a mixed-use community that was highly walkable. The goal for these communities is to re-establish walking as a primary transportation mode similar to the early 1900’s, yet under modern conditions.”
According to Hall, “taming a street” by reducing lanes and lowering the speed limit is not only beneficial to the environment and the health of the residents, but it is also more financially successful for the community. For Hall, this walkability concept is something he recommends cities adopt as part of their redevelopment strategies.
Hall will be working with the RMA team to transform the blighted Broadway Corridor in West Palm Beach. One of his first steps will be proving to the FDOT and others that reducing the avenue from 4 to 2 lanes won’t create unacceptable traffic congestion.
“Through various computerized traffic models we will be able to allay their concerns,” said Hall. “And then, we will work with the community to have them see their neighborhood with fresh eyes.”
According to Hall, this pedestrian-friendly concept is one that both Millennials and Boomers are already embracing. “The younger generation loves the idea of being immersed in their community and having walkable access to work, shopping and fun,” he said. “While the Boomers understand the growing importance of wanting to stay independent, age in their community and remain in the center of the action even if they decide to limit their driving.”
“I am very excited about working with RMA on this Broadway Corridor project,” continued Hall. “Right now walking in the Corridor is difficult, but in 5 to 10 years, it will be amazing to see the revitalization that will have occurred.”
Hall is so passionate about the benefits of walkability, in his off time he advocates changes in how streets are designed, and encourages local, state and national agencies to change their design rules.
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