Change to Two-Way Traffic Downtown
Nobody likes change. And, the older we get, the more we seem to resist changing our ways. Maybe that's why I have not yet fully embraced the decision this week by the Eau Claire City Council to change the one-way traffic flow on South Barstow Street and Graham Avenue to two-way traffic.
I have occupied office space in downtown Eau Claire for more than 20 years. I still witness motorists driving the wrong way on the one-way streets. Most of the time it occurs on weekends, when visitors are staying at the downtown hotel for a Friday or Saturday night function.
The main reason for changing the downtown traffic pattern to two-way roadways is to help small business. Certainly there are some benefits for retailers to have two-way traffic flow past their business. And, with the change to two-way traffic, it appears parking opportunities will increase by about 20 percent.
Another issue affecting the change to two-way traffic is the desire to take advantage of the scenic riverfront. But until plans are in the works to revamp the riverfront along Graham Avenue, there really is no pressing need to expose more motorists to the river. Most of the current discussion of future riverfront development is focused on the west side of the river, not the immediate downtown area.
Gas station attendants and others who are asked to give directions to out-of-town motorists will probably embrace the change. I can recall many attempts to provide directions to an out-of-town guest and having a difficult time explaining where the one-way streets begin and end.
Other cities who have reverted back to two-way traffic have cited reductions in store vacancies, more economic vitality and increased business exposure. If that's the case in Eau Claire, then the traffic pattern change will be worthwhile.
I guess I don't have a problem with making the two downtown roadways become two-way streets again, but I'm wondering how long it will take for a long-time tenant like myself to forget about the traffic flow change and be ticketed for driving in the left lane and into the oncoming vehicles.