MODESTO — The big change — opening to vehicles after more than a decade of being for pedestrians only — comes to Tenth Street Plaza on Thursday.
The process was under way Tuesday, with city of Modesto worker Israel Cortez removing traffic barriers from 10th Street at K.
In other preparations for vehicle traffic, the roadway was painted and pedestrian crossing signs were put up.
The Modesto City Council voted earlier this month to open the downtown destination to cars. The 13-year-old plaza once was lined with restaurants and packed with people. Now half of the storefronts are empty.
The plaza is one city block between J and K streets and is flanked by Tenth Street Place — the city-county administration building — and the 18-screen Brenden Theatres. Other businesses include Fuzio Universal Bistro, Jamba Juice and Loard's Ice Cream.
Proponents hope letting vehicles in will jump-start business activity by increasing the plaza's visibility. Opponents fear people and cars are not a good mix and believe what ails the plaza won't be fixed by letting in cars.
City officials said the plaza will be open to traffic for a one-year trial period, but it can be closed temporarily for special events.