News and Tribune

September 15, 2013

OUR OPINION: Move forward on making streets two-way

NEWS AND TRIBUNE
newsroom@newsandtribune.com

Talk of switching one-way streets in New Albany to two-way traffic is the most fervent it’s been in years. And, it really has been years we’ve been talking about this.

On Thursday night’s city council meeting agenda are two separate resolutions set to be presented regarding possible conversion to two-way streets. The first by Councilman Greg Phipps seeks to appropriate $30,000 in riverboat funds to help facilitate a study to research how traffic would be affected by such a conversion.

The second proposed resolution, from Councilman John Gonder, calls for the immediate conversion of “as many one-way streets to two-way traffic as practicable” and to study major intersections to see how those would change with two-way roadways. Gonder’s plan would follow a 2007 traffic study funded by the city.

While Gonder’s stance is encouraging — moving forward with a quality-of-life and quality-of-business change that needs to happen in downtown New Albany — we propose a hybrid of the two resolutions.

At this point, it’s time to admit that two-way streets, for the most part, are the way to go. Major cities such as Dallas and Denver have been converting one-way streets to two-way in recent years, and it makes even more sense in a small city like New Albany.

Think of it this way: If a quaint, vibrant downtown is what New Albany leaders are after — and we hope they are — one-way streets are not the road best traveled. The goal of one-way streets is to move traffic through areas, not to get drivers to stop and enjoy the city. 

Also, studies have shown that one-way streets lead to increased speeds from motorists, and there are generally less stopping intersections to slow them down. So converting to two-way streets makes a city safer for bicyclists and pedestrians as well.

Vikash Gayah, a Penn State University researcher, has studied the one-way vs. two-way issue extensively. His conclusion is that drivers on one-way streets spend more time getting to their destination, because they are limited to only one direction of travel on certain streets.

In simpler terms, if you are trying to get to a business in downtown New Albany and bypass your destination, it will take you longer to get back around to it in a one-way system than it would in a downtown filled with two-way streets.

It also highlights one of the major advantages of two-way streets in downtown areas — visibility and ease of access for businesses.

It’s becoming clear that the above advantages are driving most city leaders to favor conversion to two-way streets, and we urge this. However, we do think some money should be spent up-front, but in developing a comprehensive plan, rather than a study.

The move to two-way streets is the right one for New Albany. We urge city leaders to take the steps to make sure the conversion is done in a safe and productive way.

— The News and Tribune editorial board is comprised of Publisher Bill Hanson, Editor Shea Van Hoy, Assistant Editor Chris Morris and Assistant Editor Jason Thomas. Responses can be sent to shea.vanhoy@newsandtribune.com