NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WDRB) -- The city of New Albany is embracing a solution to heavy traffic expected after the Ohio River Bridges project is finished.

The New Albany Board of Public Works and Safety has approved changing several one-way streets into two-way streets.

According to the post, HWC Engineering presented three design options to the Board of Public Works and Safety on September 13, 2016. The firm recommended converting all roads in the downtown grid system, including Pearl, Bank, Market, Spring, and Elm Streets.

The final environmental document required by the Indiana Department of Transportation was recently approved, allowing action to be taken by the Board of Public Works and Safety.

During a meeting Tuesday morning of the New Albany Board of Public Works and Safety, the board decided to accept HWC Engineering’s recommendations, and have begun the process of converting the one-way streets of Pearl, Bank, Market, Spring, and Elm Streets to two-way traffic.

"It's time to re-balance our streets," said John Rosenberger, the city's Public Works project supervisor.

He explained each road will have one lane of traffic heading in each direction. Expect Spring Street will have one lane headed east and two lanes headed west to help with cuing up traffic for the I-64 ramp.

According to Rosenberger, years of study went into this decision. He said he doesn't believe the changes will create any major issues. In fact, Rosenberger said it will provide more choices and flexibility for drivers. He said crews can time the new signals properly so that drivers won't be sitting at lights too long or waiting forever to turn left.

Since the project was approved Tuesday morning, now INDOT will begin the bidding process. Rosenberger anticipates construction and visible changes to start in late spring or early summer 2017.

“I think this is a positive change for our city," said Mayor Jeff Gahan in a news release. "After months of review and preparation, the Board of Public Works and Safety has reached the same conclusion as planners and engineers. The City of New Albany has been one-way long enough. These changes improve walkability, the connectivity of all residents, and will further enhance our downtown." 

Some people we spoke with will welcome the change. 

"I have a family, and most of the time, we can't even walk up and down Spring Street without fearing for our life," resident Joe Autry said. "Can't walk to dog, can't take the family on Spring Street."

But not everyone agrees.

"If something is working well, why mess with it?" said Bob Caesar. His family has owned a jewelry store in downtown New Albany since the 1800s. 

He believes traffic and parking changes could hurt downtown business.

"You want to come in, get what you want, get it and go someplace else. And if you slow that traffic down enough, people just won't come. And that's the big worry," Caesar said.

The project is expected to cost $2.8 million. About $2.3 million of that is expected to come from the federal government.

Rosenberger said crews will add "pedestrian crossing flashers" to help bring more awareness to walkers. And he said the bike lanes will stay in tact to protect cyclists as well. The parking spots will stay in front of the business, and Rosenberger said they could even add a couple more spots.

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