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franklin county times

Downtown streets: Residents split on one-way, two-way

By Staff
DOWNTOWN STREETS A one-way sign stands at the corner of Fourth Street and 22nd Avenue in downtown Meridian one of many such signs in a downtown where most streets handle one-way traffic. Earlier this month, representatives from the Urban Land Institute recommended city officials ditch one-way streets and let all downtown roads handle two-way traffic. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Erin Hilsabeck and Georgia E. Frye / staff writers
June 28, 2004
Janie Mathews says streets in downtown Meridian are too narrow to handle two-way traffic anywhere including near Bambino Children's Shop on 23rd Street where she works.
But June Howington, who owns June's Specialties on 23rd Street in downtown Meridian, says two-way traffic would eliminate confusion among some drivers.
Downtown Meridian is predominantly home to one-way streets, even though a few including parts of Front Street handle two-way traffic.
Earlier this month, members of an advisory panel from the Urban Land Institute suggested the city make all downtown streets two-way. The panel said one-way streets quickly move traffic away from downtown.
The advisory group a panel of city officials from around the country was in town to present four days of intensive research and suggestions about how Meridian officials can revitalize downtown.
The group toured downtown, met with business leaders and then outlined its findings and recommendations at a public hearing.
Former Mayor Jimmy Kemp said most east-west streets became one-way in the late 1950s or early 1960s. He said 22nd Avenue, 23rd Avenue and part of Front Street became one-way while he was in office from 1985-1993.
Monty Jackson, Meridian's public works director, said changing downtown streets back to two-way traffic would take about 18 months to two years.
Jackson said the city would need the time to replace signs, change traffic signals, paint new lines in the streets and possibly place new asphalt on the roads.
Meridian City Council President Bobby Smith said he supports making downtown streets two-way. Smith said he hopes to bring the issue before the full council for a vote before the end of the year.
Residents, though, like Janie Mathews and June Howington, have mixed opinions on the traffic issue.
Sheila Powell, a Meridian resident who drove downtown last week to go to the post office, said she doesn't like driving on Meridian's one-way streets.

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