Ashland considers two-lane Main Street

A draft plan for Ashland's transportation system calls for reducing Main Street from three lanes to two as it travels through downtown — but only if major hurdles can be overcome.

The draft Transportation System Plan includes a proposal to cut the number of vehicle lanes to make room for bike lanes and wider sidewalks. But it includes important caveats, said city of Ashland Public Works Director Mike Faught.

"The issue of (delivery) trucks has to be solved," Faught said.

Trucks frequently park directly on Main Street during deliveries and pickups, blocking one lane of traffic. Reducing Main Street to two lanes would leave less room for cars to maneuver around the trucks.

The proposal could not move forward if it would have a harmful effect on the downtown economy, according to the transportation plan.

Parking issues also would need to be addressed, Faught said.

A preliminary estimate of the cost to reduce Main Street to two lanes downtown was $396,000, Faught said.

Several Ashland Transportation Commission members did not return phone calls for comment on the draft plan.

Former Commissioner Brent Thompson said any changes to lanes downtown would have to be supported by business owners there, not just people passing through.

"Traveling through the downtown, no matter how one does it, is an intricate process at busy times. I think we should leave the lanes alone," Thompson said.

Thompson said when he bicycles through downtown, he uses alleys rather than Main Street so he feels safer.

The Transportation System Plan likely will go before the City Council in mid-December or early January 2013, Faught said.

The total cost of the Transportation System Plan is $416,740, with the city covering $201,740 of that, Faught said. The rest would come from transportation grants.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.

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