NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WDRB) -- Big changes are coming to downtown New Albany, and drivers will need to keep a close eye on the road. For the first time since the mid-1960s, several streets are converting from one-way to two-way.
Michelle Wells opened Mariposa Consignments on Pearl Street in downtown New Albany five years ago.
“Downtown's really growing. I've seen it booming over the least five years,” Wells told WDRB News.
Wells believes business will be even better after Pearl and several other downtown one-way streets convert to two-way next week.
“For tourists, it's going to be easier for them to access everyone, and not take four trips around the block to go back to where they think they wanted to go,” she said.
Crews are putting the finishing touches on what has been a four-month conversion process.
“We've done the signal work. We've done the paving operations. We've done most of the striping. Now we're just fine-tuning the striping to make it's going to be 100 percent correct,” said New Albany City Engineer Larry Summers.
The conversion will happen in phases. Spring Street will be the first to open on Tuesday, August 29, followed by Bank and Pearl Streets on Wednesday, and sometime later, Elm and Market Streets
For now, the streets are a mess with barricades blocking some streets and construction crews at work. But the ultimate goal is to improve traffic flow.
“Calm the traffic and make better neighborhoods, make safer roads, make it a better place for people to walk,” said Summers.
Many drivers told WDRB they want to wait-and-see before passing judgment.
“It's going to be a big adjustment, and I'm not looking forward to the traffic it's going to cause,” said one.
“It's going to take some getting used to. That's for sure,” said another.
Another driver said he’ll be glad when the work is all done. And when asked whether she thinks she’ll like the finished product, one woman laughed, “Probably not.”
The conversion cost $2.5 million, with 80 percent paid for by federal funds. Michelle Wells believes it is worth every penny.
“For a downtown business owner, I back it 100 percent,” she said.
Though officials know Spring Street will be the first to convert next Tuesday, they do not yet know yet what time. Summers said the city will make an announcement when the decision is made.
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