Gateways help reinforce the identity of an area; from naming to aesthetics. In the case of over the street gateways, they can bring down one’s perception of scale, drawing the eye toward street level components. Gateways also create a sense of hierarchy and focus by creating a frame to look through, especially as one approaches from a distance.
At the intersection of Western Ave. and Olive St. in South Bend, we have several converging components that make this an ideal spot for a gateway feature: 1. Two major traffic routes cross here, so already, many people pass through here each day. 2. There is a distinct change in character that happens along Western starting at this intersection, in part because of the streetscape changes that happen just a short ways further West. 3. The vacant parcel on the Northwest side of the intersection (where the PNA Lounge used to be) cannot be developed all the way to the previous building set-back because many vehicles hit the corner of that building as they made the turn from Olive to Western (heading West). 4. The proposed added left turn lanes would widen the intersection another 11 to 12 feet, lessening the impact from the reduced scale the new streetscape along Western creates.
A gateway here, directly ties into the West Side Main Streets Master Plan (see page 94), and helps solve many of the issues raised above. According to the plan: “The east end of the Cultural District occurs at the intersection of Olive Street and Western Avenue… This intersection should be addressed to create a safe environment [and] offers the opportunity to create a gateway that spans Western Avenue.” Some other potential gateway types are seen below.