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Downtown two-way traffic hits the road

Oregon City returns to original Main Street configuration
by: city of oregon city A photo circa 1950 taken at the corner of Seventh and Main streets faces north and shows two-way traffic.

Oregon City's Main Street went back in time at the end of November, when it was converted from one-way to two-way traffic.

At 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 29, after a hiatus since the early 1990s, the street opened to two-way traffic. New paint includes a yellow striped centerline and white directional arrows.

Downtown business owners like how moving from angled to parallel parking made storefronts much more visible.

'Two way is more customer friendly and provides better access to our side streets,' said Lloyd Purdy, downtown manager.

Oregon City received the kudos of a National Trust of Historic Preservation article last week saying that one-way streets are efficient, but they are not easy to navigate, especially for tourists and infrequent customers. The story went on to say that conversion could attract private investment.

The work was originally scheduled for the middle of November, but rainy and cold weather delayed the project. Unseasonably nice weather last week provided optimal conditions for restriping of dry pavement at temperatures of 45 degrees or higher.

Main Street parking spaces without meters between Sixth and Ninth streets will provide what Purdy calls 'a parking holiday for the holiday season,' but officers will continue to enforce the two-hour rule. Erik Wahrgren, a city project engineer, expects that kiosks allowing payment by credit card will arrive in January or February.

Canby Excavating is completing its $800,000 bid to get two-way going and revitalize the intersection of 10th and Main with access for people riding bikes. 'We're wrapping things up, and we've gotten a lot of positive feedback,' Wahrgren said.

Nutter Corp. will begin in January on a $1.75 million project to install new street lamps, traffic lights, curbs, crosswalks, utility lines and sidewalks between Fifth and 10th streets. Wallace Engineering is managing both projects.

The projects are on schedule to finish in October 2012, when the Arch Bridge is promised to reopen for traffic. Susan Hanson, community affairs coordinator for the Oregon Department of Transportation, noted crews have been working long hours to meet this goal.

Hanson clarified, however, that continued construction may force partial closures of the bridge through the 2012 holiday season and into 2013.