Never turning back

Lynchburg City Council plans to continue use of one-way streets downtown

THE ONLY WAY — The Lynchburg City Council voted against a two-way road conversion in Downtown Lynchburg, opting to keep the one-way roads currently in place. Photo Credit: Denton Day

THE ONLY WAY — The Lynchburg City Council voted against a two-way road conversion in Downtown Lynchburg, opting to keep the one-way roads currently in place.
Photo Credit: Denton Day

The Lynchburg City Council unanimously voted against the conversion of Main Street to two-way traffic, meaning Downtown Lynchburg’s Main Street will continue to operate with one-way streets.

City Manager Bonnie Svrcek said the city council adopted a master plan in 2001 for downtown Lynchburg in order to guide planning for a reimagined downtown for the next 15-20 years.

This plan included converting Church and Main Street to two-way traffic.

“It would be pedestrian-friendly, and we thought it would get more people into their businesses,” Svrcek said.

The conversion was also thought to help with the facilitation of downward flowing traffic. 

As a result, this would turn downtown into a destination rather than a through way because of the large amount of attractions in the area.

“We’re going to have a new hotel open,” Svrcek said.

We’re going to have the Academy Center of the Arts open, so downtown is becoming more of a destination. That also means we have more pedestrians, and two-way traffic has proven to be more safe for pedestrians.”

Svrcek said the conversion was thought to be a good development tool because it would slow traffic down.

“When you slow traffic down as well, motorists have more opportunity to view what is going on on either side of the roadway whereas when they’re just using the streets as a through way, they’re pretty much just looking straight ahead,”  Svrcek said.

As a result of the one-way traffic, Svrcek said engineers are thinking that street signals will need to be implemented at intersections while the two-way traffic would have only required stop signs.

“We’re going to recycle the signals that we took down — spruce them up a little bit — and if we need to put them back up we’ll put them back up,” Svrcek said.

According to Svrcek, staff members are supportive of two way traffic while many business owners were concerned.

“Some of our business owners were very concerned that two-way traffic was too big of change for them right now,” Svrcek said.

“I have a project that is going to go on on Fifth Street and at the Main Street bridge in the expressway, and we’re also replacing the Community Market parking deck, so there’s a lot going on at the same time. I think people were really sort of nervous about it.”

Grayson Hammond, a Lynchburg resident, said the conversion of Main Street to two-way traffic would be helpful if it was able to widen the streets.

“I feel that it’s a bad call not to choose the safer route,” Hammond said.

“I think the city should choose the safer option for pedestrians.”

Hammond said although the traffic can create congestion, he enjoys downtown Lynchburg because of the variety that is offered rather than the common
chain restaurants.

“I like the atmosphere of downtown Lynchburg because you find the local side when you go to places like Waterstone and the love sign,” Hammond said.

“It really is unique.”

Conley is a news reporter.

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