New study opens possibilities for two-lane traffic in downtown New Albany
Roger Baylor lives in a two-story home not far from the heart of downtown New Albany. For 10 years, he says he's begged the city to switch traffic on Spring Street to two ways to slow cars down.
"We're just now getting people with kids moving in again -- you didn't see kids for years," he said. "If there's an interstate running in front of your house, it's not appropriate."
"[It] doesn't mean they are going 70 or 80 miles an hour," he added. "It means that in a built-up area like this, 45 or 50 is 80."
But for a long time, Baylor wasn't changing any minds.
"The response has generally been, 'That's really nice, you are probably right,'" he said, laughing.
Baylor's battle may be changing. The city's $79,000 traffic study says two ways in downtown and midtown are a safe bet ahead of the Ohio River Bridges Project. Experts believe New Albany will be a popular passthrough as drivers try to avoid tolls using the Sherman Minton bridge. Streets like Elm, Market -- and even Spring -- are on a list to consider converting to two-ways.
"It's brilliant," Baylor said.
But before the city paints a big yellow line down the street, it may face a pushback from some downtown businesses. Bob Caesar owns J.O. Endris & Sons Jewelers. After 42 years in business, he's closing up shop, though he still owns the building and sits on New Albany's city council.
"There's no question about it: there will be a major slowdown," Caesar said. "Customers will struggle more to find a parking place...fewer opportunities always, always, always relates to less business."
Caesar says he questions the study.
It also includes plans for narrowing roads and making the city more walker-friendly. The city will host a public hearing before taking any action -- and even with some trying to pump the brakes on the plan, Roger remains cautiously optimistic.
"Yeah, this is the greatest opportunity we've had to bring this city into being modern, so I have to hope that it happens," Baylor said.
Baylor also owns the New Albanian Brewing Company on Spring Street.
Funding has not been finalized yet.
Copyright 2015 by WDRB News. All rights reserved.