Home > Chatter, Complete Streets, Design the Details, Engineering Design, Safety Issues > A Temporary One-Way to Two-Way Conversion May Just Stick

A Temporary One-Way to Two-Way Conversion May Just Stick

EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome James Bruckbauer, transportation specialist at MLUI, to the list of guest contributors to MyWHaT. James is new to the region and is the type of talent dividend the City needs. Young, energetic (I don’t even think he drinks coffee) and passionate about efficient transportation-in particular public transit.

In his travels around the State, he discovered Grand Haven’s current endeavor to convert their downtown one-ways to two-ways. Later this morning, I’ll have a follow-up with the pros-and-cons of each.

A Temporary One-Way to Two-Way Conversion May Just Stick

~ Guest contributor, James Bruckbauer

It turns out you don’t know how good two-way streets are until you have them. The City of Grand Haven recently temporarily converted a downtown one-way street to a two-street and now their asking the public if they should keep it that way.

Click for larger view

Grand Haven and Traverse City have a lot in common. They are relatively small, tourist orientated towns. They both have great natural beauty, great people, and great festivals. Both cities share a very intense summer peak season. Their downtowns are also similar when you look at the directional flow of the traffic.

Grand Haven has a one-way “Main Street,” then 2 surrounding one-way streets for circular traffic flow. The Main Street (Washington Ave.) is very pedestrian friendly, however the 2 surrounding one-ways face the same accommodations to cars (surface parking lots, walking/biking discomfort) that TC’s one-way State St. faces, despite having a designated bike lane on each. Traffic on these streets moves a little too fast because, well…that was the reason for the conversion to one-ways in the first place – motorized traffic “flow.”

The intention was for people in cars to enter and leave the downtown with ease and speed.

Construction Leads To Temporary Switch That May Become Permanent

In the Fall of ’09, the City reconstructed Washington to install a snowmelt system along with overall design improvements. While doing so, the Grand Haven temporarily converted the formerly one-way street, Columbus to a two-way street – allowing greater automobile accessibility to the downtown.

The result: slower traffic with the same ease of use.

Now the City is considering keeping it that way – Peter Spaulding’s analysis and critique of one-ways is holding water – downtown two-way streets increase livability and safety.

Converting a one-way road to a two-way doesn’t have to be a tremendous task. Grand Haven had to move through MDOT’s requirements to temporarily convert the street, but essentially it came down to putting up a sign with two black arrows.

The concept of converting Traverse City’s State Street to a two-way certainly warrants continued discussion. The potential for increased livability and walkability outweigh the cost of inaction.

And, we may be able to learn how easy it can be from a small town just 150-miles away. I’ll keep you posted on progress of Grand Haven’s proposal.




This BLOG and the advocacy behind it takes time; more than I care to admit. It’s not really a job, but it is work and MyWHaT is looking for underwriters to help support it. Can you help? Underwriters may use the MyWHaT PayPal account, fill out a Underwriter Form to mail or send me a message to meet over coffee and discuss options. Terms can be creative; we take Baybucks, bartering and pledges.

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