At the April 21st city council meeting, Muscatine council members voted 5-2 to move forward with the conversion of Second street. Agenda item 11 L read “to approve the conversion of E. 2nd street from a one-way to a two-way street between Pine Street and Mulberry Avenue.” Due to the upcoming Mississippi Drive Corridor Project, a detour is needed that will minimize the impact of construction on traffic to downtown businesses. The current plan is to start the conversion as soon as possible in order for the work to be completed prior to the corridor project.
Several members of the community attended and spoke on the issue. Eva McBride addressed the council with a plan proposing to leave Second street a one-way and convert Third street to a one-way going in the opposite direction. Flynn Collier owns a business on Second street and he spoke in favor of the conversion, citing, “The city of Vancouver, Washington, went through a similar conversion process after building a new hotel. They saw stagnant activity prior to eliminating the one-ways in town, and after converting to two-way streets, almost overnight they saw a flurry of activity.”
Councilman Tom Spread addressed the council, saying, “This construction process is going to take around two years. People will change their behavior in that time and will be accustomed to a two-way street. To then change it back would require another behavioral change.”
Dennis Froelich, who owns Feather Your Nest Interiors with his wife, told the Voice of Muscatine, “I am concerned about two things: First, the safety aspect. Right now my delivery trucks can double park and people can safely go around without worrying about oncoming traffic. By going to a two-way street, that cannot happen. The council has told us they will be adding loading zones but I am concerned that those will be abused and my big trucks won’t be able to park there. If they park in front of my store to unload and cars try to go around, it is only a matter of time before an accident happens. Secondly, I can’t take deliveries through the back, and if this is a permanent solution I am concerned that the companies that deliver our products will begin requiring other arrangements that could end up costing me more money. But my primary concern is safety.”
Dan Stein, member of the board for the new Merrill Hotel and Conference Center that is being built on Second street, notified the council that “the hotel does not have a strong opinion on which direction the traffic flows; we just need to know what it will be so we can finalize the design.”
To execute a temporary change to a two-way street would cost an estimated $10,000. To permanently make the change would cost an estimated $45,000.