SIKESTON - After listening to several opinions regarding making Center Street a one-way street, the traffic committee unanimously voted against the idea at Wednesday's meeting.
However, this does not mean the notion is buried. It will be presented before the city council at their next meeting. And although the committee voted against the measure, the city may still choose to approve the idea.
Members of the public are invited to share their opinions concerning Center Street at the June 6 meeting, since this deals with a heavily traveled area. The meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. at the City Council chambers, located at 105 E. Center Street.
"No ordinances have been passed and nothing has been drafted yet," said Linda Lowes, director of Government Services. "We really want citizens' input before anything is done."
The idea was brought to the committee by the Historic Midtown Development Group as a way to possibly increase parking and attract more customers to the downtown area. "We wanted to see if it was feasible," said Robin Pace, president of the association.
Steve Lee, street superintendent, had measurements taken to determine how many parking places would be available if the street was converted to accommodate one way traffic.
"We did measuring so we could answer questions that came up," Lee said, adding that they looked at it from several different angles.
Currently, there are 28 parking spaces in the area stretching from Kingshighway to Stoddard Street. The number of parking spaces could increase or decrease if a change is made, depending on the angle used. Using a 60 degree angle would result in a net gain of five to eight spaces, while one to four spaces would be lost if a 45 degree angle was used, depending on which side of the street the spaces were located on.
The width of the street was also measured and found to be 43 feet. Meeting attendees suggested this would be difficult for vehicles to back up, especially large trucks. It would also leave less room for drivers to get around large delivery trucks.
Some attendees suggested that additional parking may not even be needed. All of the available parking in the downtown area is rarely used, according to Steve Sikes, owner of Sikes Sporting Goods, so extra parking may not be needed. Traffic on Center Street may also increase due to the opening of Walgreens and additional stoplight being put in.
"More people may use Center Street to avoid traffic," Sikes pointed out.
Transforming Center Street to a one-way street may also confuse some people accustomed to the two-way street, Sikes suggested. He pointed out that some people travel the wrong way on other one-way streets.
"There are more issues to be considered than just the number and location of spots," added Steve Matthews, marketing president at U.S. Bank. "I think the way it is set up now, the flow of traffic is good the way it is."
Matthews raised several concerns, pointing out that parking spots in front of some businesses would be lost since spots would only be on one side of the street. He also did not see how the plan would enhance the downtown area, since public safety concerns may arise if customers have to walk across the street.
The flashing light at the intersection of Malone and New Madrid may be dangerous for the one-way street, as well as traffic coming from two-way parts of Center Street, Matthews noted. "It doesn't ease the traffic flow at some points," he said. He predicted it may congest traffic, by customers having to travel an additional block and make additional turns to arrive at their destination.
Pedestrian problems may also arise, suggested committee member Ann Matthews. She was also concerned that utility problems, such as a water main break, would close the entire street instead of a single lane of traffic.
Lowes urged all concerned residents to attend the council meeting to voice their opinions. "We want to hear how the public feels," she said. "Based on that, we will proceed."