Ashland Transportation Commission endorses 'road diet'

The Ashland Transportation Commission has recommended that the Ashland City Council approve the original version of a "road diet" plan for North Main Street that drew fire from concerned neighbors.

The commission voted to make the recommendation Thursday night. The City Council will consider the issue on Aug. 2.

The original road diet plan called for reducing North Main Street's four lanes to two travel lanes and a center turn lane. The road would be re-striped to make more room for bike lanes and pedestrians.

That plan also banned northbound drivers on North Main Street from making left turns onto Wimer Street. But neighbors protested that would send hundreds of extra cars onto other neighborhood streets as drivers sought alternate routes. Traffic studies showed traffic would surge on some streets and drop on others.

Responding to neighbors' concerns, Ashland Public Works Director Mike Faught recommended earlier this month that left turns be allowed onto Wimer. Wimer and Hersey streets would be realigned since they both connect with North Main Street but don't line up with each other, creating a dangerous intersection.

Including the intersection realignment as part of the road diet plan likely would have delayed the road diet's implementation from this fall to June 2012.

If the City Council approves the Transportation Commission's recommendation to go with the original road diet plan, the plan could be fast-tracked for this fall since it would only involve re-striping North Main Street. The affected area of the street would be on the north edge of town, between Helman Street and Jackson Road.

— Vickie Aldous

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