Possible traffic shifts in Anderson to spur development

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ANDERSON, Ind. (Sept. 29, 2015) - Streets could be changing directions in downtown Anderson, as Mayor Kevin Smith is pushing a plan to change one-way streets to two-way.

Smith’s office believes it could transform downtown Anderson, but critics point to the cost as prohibitive.

The plan calls for two-way conversions at six streets, like Main and Central, and adding stop signs and parking to the tune of $500,000.

“At this time, it’s too much money,” said Ollie Dixon, of the Anderson City Council.

Dixon said the price tag is too high and says the money could be better spent on other needs. Dixon and others heard about the proposal at a council committee meeting held Tuesday afternoon.

“What we’re really trying to do is increase economic development in the downtown area by getting downtown businesses double exposure,” said Michael Farmer, Engineering Services Director, City of Anderson.

Farmer said the traffic shift is a part of Anderson Mayor Kevin Smith’s long-range plan for the downtown area, called Operation Downtown. It includes 17 proposed projects over a ten year period, with a price tag of at least $30 million.

Farmer said getting rid of traffic lights is a key step.

“We're slowing people down and allowing pedestrians to get downtown as well,” he said, “All of our traffic lights are timed coming in and out of town, so if we slow them down and get them to look around, we think we will see some businesses pop up.”

Neighboring businesses already downtown like the idea but expressed doubt about how much the city will have to pay.

“I worry about the long term cost, but i think to a certain point we need to do some straightening up,” said Teddy Zerr, at Standt’s Jewelry.

The council tabled the street proposal earlier in September to learn more. Smith’s office hopes it will be brought back up and approved.

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