Batesville Main Street Going 2-way?

December 14, 2006 Posted at 9:00 a.m. CST

Batesville, AR -- The possibility of turning Batesville's one-way street back into a two-way street is up in the air.

Donna Ernest, Executive Director of Main St. Batesville says this is just a way to help rejuvinate downtown.

"With a two-way street, it tends to slow down traffic, it's more pedestrian friendly, and people can see both sides of the streets with stores with a two-way. But this is just the begining, we just want to get the wheels turning and the ball rolling on this."

The first plan of action was an informative meeting last Thursday. City Council, the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, Mayor Baird and Mayor-Elect Rick Elembaugh all attended the meeting.

"It was really just an imformative meeting, a way to get everyone in on the idea and find out  what they are thinking."

Mayor-Elect, Rick Elembaugh, continued to say that Batesville wants to grow and improve their downtown, but he wasn't sure if the city was ready for the project.

"We are widening Harrison St. right now, and even if we could do anything for downtown, I think it should wait until this is finished. I think that's one thing the Highway Dept. emphasized was that it would be a major cost to change the one-way streets, and I just don't think the city is willing to take on a cost like that right now."

Lyndal Waits with the Highway Dept. District 5, said if the city decides to do this then the Highway Dept. wouldn't be able to help out with the cost.

"We have much bigger needs throughout the state so if the city decides to do this, then it will be up to them to cover the cost. They can get assisstance, but it will take a few years.

But cost isn't the only problem. Residents are worried about traffic, parking, and deliveries.

"Delivery trucks service the downtown, and with a one-way street they can stop in the road and you can go around them. If we go back to two-way then you can't do that very well and you would be worse off than you are now."

Lyndal Waits says the street was two-way before the 70's.

"Back then, there weren't as many cars or people and as it started to grow they made Main St. and College St. one-way. The project was used to help with congestion and I think it did the job. If you go back to two-way I think things will just get worse."

Donna Ernest says there are solutions.

"Those are all things we need to talk about. Right now we need to make people aware, find out the problems and find solutions. It will take time, but it will help our downtown.