OLEAN — The bottom of North Second Street will change direction with almost unanimous approval by city leaders.
The Common Council on Tuesday approved the reversal of traffic on the 100 block of North Second Street, 6-1, requiring traffic to enter the street from West State Street instead of Laurens Avenue.
The change will not be instantaneous.
“Do we just flip the sign over one day?” said Alderman Paul Gonzalez, D-Ward 3.
City Department of Public Works Director Bob Ring said that at least three things will have to happen — the signs on the north end of the street will be changed, the signs on the south end will also be changed, and a new arrow in the turning lane on West State Street leading into North Second Street will need to be added. He will submit needed work orders, and the changes should happen in the near future.
One alderman, Nate Smith, R-Ward 6, voted against the measure.
“I’m concerned about the unintended consequences of changing the direction of a long-standing street,” said Smith, adding he was specifically concerned about traffic to Bimbo Bakeries. “Businesses thrive on consistency.”
Sponsor Kevin Dougherty, R-Ward 4, who owns a small business on the street, said he has had several conversations with employees on the topic.
“A few of the factory workers have said they are in favor of it, and some of the office workers,” Dougherty said.
Dougherty, who represents the area, said in June that his canvassing of neighbors turned up few complaints, with most residents and Olean Public Library officials in favor.
“I haven’t heard anything negative about it,” said council President John Crawford, I-Ward 5.
During the public comment period at the meeting, no speaker offered an opinion on the change — either pro or con — despite some posters on social media critical of the proposal.
The biggest reason for the change, Dougherty said when introducing the resolution, was based on the change in traffic patterns due to the North Union Street overhaul — specifically limiting northbound traffic from turning on to Laurens Avenue — as showing a need for an alternative way to reach the library and businesses. He also noted consistent traffic traveling the wrong way.
For example, the Google Street View image database for the corner of West State and North Second streets shows a car entering North Second Street in violation of the One Way signs.
(Contact reporter-editor Bob Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @OTHBob)