The Ottumwa Courier

November 25, 2013

City Council discussing downtown two-way traffic

Courier staff writer

---- — OTTUMWA — Downtown Ottumwa could look very different in the near future, at least from inside your car.

At a special meeting of the Ottumwa City Council on Monday in City Hall’s Council Chambers, councilmembers had a preliminary discussion about converting West Main and West Second streets into two-way traffic for their entire length, all the way from McPherson to Jefferson streets.

While the portions of sewer piping underneath Second and Main streets are being repaired, part of the streets will have to be converted to two-way to accommodate for the construction, according to Director of Public Works Larry Seals.

The portion from McPherson Avenue to McLean Street on both Second and Main streets will be turned into two-way for the time being, and since there is signage and lines that have to be painted there, it only makes sense to continue the construction all the way to Jefferson Street. That would make Second and Main streets completely two-way.

“We’ve got a jump on several blocks that we are going to do anyway,” Seals said in his presentation to City Council.

The portions of Second and Main streets that are not part of the sewer replacement project will cost a good deal of money to change to two-way, but the Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation has stepped in to help.

According to Brad Little, president of the foundation, they have been in discussions with downtown business owners about what they want to see talked about around the community and by councilmembers. He said the number-one vote getter from those business owners was looking at changing the one-ways into two-way streets, as long as it is done properly.

“This is something identified many, many years ago,” Little said. “Two-way streets give our businesses a better look.”

Now that there is unanimous interest from City Council to look at developing Second and Main streets into two-ways, Seals and his team will look at getting costs and other plans solidified. Then, the matter will be brought back to City Council to look at further.

As far as the portions of Second and Main streets that will be turned into two-way traffic because of the construction, Ottumwans should look for that to happen in the spring, according to Seals.

Other items on the agenda for the special meeting of City Council included the purchase of a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu for the city’s Engineering Department. The vehicle was purchased from Vaughn Automotive, of Ottumwa, for $19,300.

— To see reporter Josh Vardaman's Twitter feed, go to @CourierJosh