Controversy over making Pine Street one-way divides Elberta council

By Jessica Vaughn
Posted 5/5/21

ELBERTA - Controversy struck at the April Elberta council meeting when Mayor Jim Hamby presented the first draft of designs that would change Pine Street into a one-way street. The designs are in …

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Controversy over making Pine Street one-way divides Elberta council

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ELBERTA - Controversy struck at the April Elberta council meeting when Mayor Jim Hamby presented the first draft of designs that would change Pine Street into a one-way street. The designs are in regard to an ALDOT Tap Grant being engineered by Civil Southeast. With the present designs, Pine Street would be transformed into a one-way street, with additional parking being created alongside the Elberta Police Department and the Elberta Civic Center. The parking would also be utilized by the Elberta Public Library and the Elberta Town Hall.

Councilmember Vicky Norris voiced her concerns on the change from a two-way street to a one-way.

“Why would we take any of our in-town streets to a one-way street?” she asked. “I mean, I understand we need parking, but we are already so congested because of the school traffic, you are going to kill us.”

Other members of the council argued those who already use Pine Street would only have to go one street further if Pine Street were changed. Hamby added only one property utilizes Pine Street as an ingress and egress to the property, which would still be viable were the street to become a one-way. He added the section of Pine Street dividing the town park from the current ballfields could be shut off in the future.

“Ultimately I can see where there’s a good possibility that section would be shut off, because when the ballfields move to the new location you’re going to create a bigger park,” he said. “The pavement would probably stay there and be utilized during the Sausage Festival and things, but I don’t know if you’re going to want people to drive right through the center of your park once it’s one big park.”

Norris retorted the council has never discussed taking out Pine Street and combining the park into one large section, and this was the first time she was hearing it. She pointed out the middle and high schools use Pine Street along their bus routes, and the Elberta Co-Op utilizes the street as well.

“You’re welcome to vote against this,” Hamby replied. “But Pine Street in the park is not part of this current project … But when we build the new ballfields and take their current location and build the splash park there, are you going to want the kids running back and forth across the street? Do you want traffic going through the middle of the park? I would say no. You and everybody else might say yes, we need that street, I’m just telling you what I think.”

Norris said while she agrees the town is in need of additional parking areas, she can’t imagine removing or altering one of the in-town streets to make it happen. She said the town is already dealing with congestion due to school traffic, and she worries taking out or lessening any of the streets will only worsen the problem.

“There are people who come off of Highway 98 to make it around all the school traffic, because we’re only getting bigger,” she said. “Our schools are only getting bigger, our town is not getting smaller. We already have a problem right out on Main Street with no turn signal and no turn lane, so therefore a lot of people do utilize Pine Street.” She said there were alternative places located throughout town where parking could be placed that didn’t interfere with the town’s streets.

“This is only the first drawing of the project,” Hamby pointed out. “Every red line on this project will have an additional sheet that we have to agree with, or disagree with, or come to a consensus on, all of which we’ll all have input on. If you want to talk to the engineer, you’re welcome to, each one of [the council members] is welcome to talk to him and we can come to a consensus. We’re going to have to do that five times on this project … This was presented to the council as an option, it’s no more than that. It is written on paper, but they can change the paper. This was just their first idea.”