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Editorial: Downtown traffic analysis needed before lanes are removed

Creating congestion and parking problems in downtown Roseburg would be unwise.

That’s why it’s important for the Roseburg City Council on Monday night to order a traffic analysis for parts of downtown Roseburg.

The council recently approved a plan to reduce traffic to one lane and add diagonal parking and bike lanes on two blocks of Washington and Oak Avenues. That plan, which could include back-in angled parking, was proposed by a citizens advisory committee, but no one knows if it could negatively affect traffic patterns.

Since those streets lead into downtown and the Roseburg Post Office, keeping traffic flowing easily now and 20 years into the future is critical.

The only way to know if the plan would tie up traffic is to put some engineers to work at peak hours and days to record the number of vehicles. Analyzing the traffic patterns is estimated to cost $13,230.

This analysis won’t be a study that’s stuck on a shelf, Roseburg City Manager Lance Colley assures us. It would point to either “yes” or “no.”

It’s an answer the council needs because it’s proceeding with a $1 million project to improve Washington and Oak avenues and Kane Street.

The council has already approved spending $74,615 with i.e. Engineering to design the project, which includes improving sidewalks, intersections, lighting and more.

While some of the improvements are to bring the city in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, others are beautification efforts outlined in the city’s 14-year-old Downtown Master Plan.

The inspiration behind the upgrades is the realignment of the Highway 138 corridor between Interstate 5 and Diamond Lake Boulevard, which is set for 2015.

When drivers come off the Oak Avenue Bridge headed for downtown, Roseburg city leaders want them to proceed straight ahead to the business district, whether they’re in passenger cars or recreational vehicles. They want pedestrians, bicyclists and wheelchair users to have their own paths and come downtown, too.

“We want this to be the gateway to downtown, not the bypass,” Colley said. “We want people to go to a place where we’ve planned for them and we’re taking care of them.”

That planning will total $102,985 if the council approves the funding for the traffic analysis and other expenses such as pavement coring, water line design and sidewalk panel design.

While the price tag may seem high, Public Works Director Nikki Messenger said planning and design costs typically comprise 10 percent of a project’s price.

“The intent is to spend more money up front so we have a successful project in the end,” Messenger said.

The city has an aggressive schedule to meet. It wants to build the project this summer, with a break during Graffiti Weekend, and complete it by the Veterans Day Parade.

Before the city proceeds further with this project, it needs to ensure it won’t hinder traffic heading downtown, since that would defeat its purpose.

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The News-Review Updated Mar 9, 2014 12:04AM Published Mar 9, 2014 12:04AM Copyright 2014 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.