VALPARAISO | Traffic on Washington Street in the city's downtown has been one-way northbound since Dave Smith was a lad, but he thinks it's time for the city to consider making it a two-way street again.
The proposal was discussed at Tuesday's meeting of the city's Traffic and Safety Committee, and city Engineering Director Tim Burkman said the notion is valid, but "we need to look at it from a broader perspective."
Smith, who is a member of the city's Redevelopment Commission, said Washington is a main entrance to the city from U.S. 30, but the one-way street between Indiana Avenue and Jefferson Street creates confusion that will only become a bigger problem when Lafayette Street is closed for the expansion of Central Park Plaza.
"This is to just keep traffic moving and make it as easy as we can," Smith said. "If they are going to change Washington, they should also do it for Franklin Street. I wanted to at least put it in their mind to think about it."
The committee said the closing of Lafayette will mean westbound traffic will have to go from Michigan Street to Napoleon Street to turn left. The problem is that making it a two-way street could be very expensive, involving a lot more than just restriping the road.
Burkman said additional signals would have to be installed at Washington and Lincolnway. Turn arrows might have to be added, and new signal arms would be needed. The city also would lose valuable parking spaces recently created along the east side of Washington north of Lincolnway, and the pedestrian bumpouts might have to be removed or altered.
A solution might be in the planned reconstruction of the road between Lincolnway and Jefferson to improve drainage there and redo the curbs and gutters. Burkman said the project might be able to widen the segment enough to preserve the parallel parking spaces.
Right now that project is on hold because of a lack of funds, but the city could look at the proposal when funds are available.