Citizens speak out about changing streets

'If it ain't broke, don't fix it' was the sentiment of most Winslow residents that attended a Sept 19 Second and Third Street Corridor Study Open House.

Mark Woodson of Woodson Engineering and Surveying Inc. serves as city engineer. He said he was given the assignment to study the Second and Third Street corridor.

Woodson noted that the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) has turned Second and Third streets over to the city. ADOT gave the city $8.2 million for future costs related to the streets.

However, Woodson noted that ADOT would be replacing the traffic signals at the intersections of Williamson and Second and Third streets.

The engineer said the city is preparing Phase II of the downtown renaissance project. ADOT will dictate part of the project assessment.

Woodson said one of the issues that will be considered and studied is converting Second and Third streets back to two-way streets.

The open house was just an opportunity for Woodson to gather information from local residents. He noted that ADOT would be spending about $2 million to rebuild the traffic signals and there is a difference in building signals for one-way and two-way streets.

Woodson said the issues involved on Second and Third streets do not apply only to the downtown area, but included the entire corridor. While the corridor study covers a wide range of issue, most of the discussion centered on Second and Third streets.

Winslow resident Dan Simmons said he was specifically "opposed to changing Second and Third Streets" from one-way to two-way streets.

Simmons said some of the businesses in the downtown area have suggested the change as a way to increase customers. However, he said he "can't think of a single business in operation that was there when Second and Third streets were two-way. The business owners opened their businesses knowing they would be located on a one-way street."

Simmons said a "tremendous amount of money would have to be spent to make the streets compatible with the high volume of traffic."

Safety should also be a major concern, Simmons noted. He said the traffic pattern is ingrained in the community.

And finally, Simmons said the motivation was wrong. He said the change was not being suggested for the good of Winslow, but for the good of a few, specific businesses.

Resident Betty Griffith said she does not know who suggested changing the streets from one-way to two-way. However, she said the streets serve as the major artery through town and are used by emergency vehicles.

"It doesn't make any sense to take away the city's lifeline," Griffith said.

Winslow Chamber of Commerce President Bill Lawler said he does not see where changing the streets would encourage or bring more tourists into town.

"The one-way streets are unique. I believe in change where I can see a reason, but I can see no reason for this," Lawler said.

Businessman John Dalton agreed that traffic on Second and Third should remain one-way. He noted that it would cost both the city and businesses to change the traffic pattern.

Resident Marie LaMar said at a meeting in January most of those in attendance supported the change. She said she has lived with both one-way and two-way streets.

LaMar said two-way traffic would not be a deficit, but would be an adjustment,

"The downtown merchants are not all of Winslow, but they deserve recognition for what they have done, I am in favor of two-way streets," LaMar said.

Business owner Bert Cole said traffic signals could be installed to address the existing problems on the one-way streets, She said it would be cheaper to fix the one-way streets than to convert them to two-way.

Woodson said Lee Engineering, a subcontractor with Woodson Engineering, would be preparing a draft report on the one-way/two-way traffic analysis.

By late October or early November, Woodson said a public hearing would be scheduled to discuss the traffic analysis.

The engineer said a meeting would be held with the consultants and city staff members in November to prepare a final recommendation. Woodson said the city council is scheduled to receive the final traffic analysis report during its Nov. 22 meeting.

"We hope to have a final resolution by the end of the year," Woodson said.

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