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Sault considers converting one-way streets

Traffic study underway to weigh benefits to business, residents
The City of Sault Ste. Marie is considering the conversion of its downtown one-way streets to two-way traffic, which is a recommendation in the city’s Transportation Master Plan. (File photo)

The City of Sault Ste. Marie is weighing the value of changing its downtown one-way streets to two-way streets to boost local business and improve livability.

On Dec. 4, the city announced it’s launched a study to examine the benefits of converting Bay, Queen, Albert and Wellington streets – all major downtown thoroughfares – to allow two-way traffic. The streets were first converted to one-way traffic in the 1950s.

Carl Rumiel, a design and construction engineer with the city, noted the recommendation for the conversion is included as part of the city’s Transportation Master Plan.

“The city’s new Transportation Master Plan recommends considering this conversion to benefit downtown business and livability; introduce new pedestrian, cycling and driver safety features; and improve overall accessibility through the downtown and the waterfront,” Rumiel said in a news release.

“The main conversion disadvantage is the cost, for example, of new curb work and traffic signals, utility relocations, and property acquisitions, which is why it’s essential for us to present potential solutions and offer an opportunity for the public to provide input and suggestions.”

The city said the primary reasoning behind the suggested change is that “the role and function of the downtown's one-way streets have changed dramatically since first installed 60 years ago,” and the traffic advantages of one-way streets are no longer needed.

The city is hosting a public information session on Dec. 6, where a number of options for converting the streets will be presented.