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September 15, 2013

OUR OPINION: Move forward on making streets two-way

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.

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