Jackson residents will have an opportunity to voice their opinion Tuesday about a proposal to make part of South High a one-way street.
A petition signed by several uptown merchants asks the city to consider making South High Street a one-way street between Main and Madison with angled parking on the east side and parallel parking on the west side.
Some merchants and others think the move could help solve an uptown parking situation they perceive as a problem. The change would create five more parking spaces and add a 63-foot loading zone in front of Siemer's Best Brands Plus.
Proponents also say the change would make traffic safer, eliminating northbound, after-school traffic and making it easier to drive around double-parked delivery trucks. The merchants are asking the city to consider the change on a temporary basis. If it doesn't work, the street can be returned to the way it is, they say.
However, a change and any undoing of the change would come at a cost.
The city says two utility poles would need to be moved because they are about 8 inches from the curb. Most vehicles have a clearance of 24 to 30 inches from their front bumper to their front tires. Moving the poles far enough away may interfere with the uptown merchants' private awnings.
All told, the city estimates a cost of $4,799 to make the change and $2,541 more if it has to restore the traffic and parking setup in the 100 block of High. Additionally, if permanent traffic and on-street modifications are made, electric utilities director Don Schuette says, it may be appropriate for the city to move the electric lines underground, costing another $8,500 to $10,000. In that scenario, the merchants would not have to move their awnings.
Unscientific polls conducted by the Jackson Chamber of Commerce and the Cash-Book Journal show that a majority think there is a parking problem and would support the change.
However, there is at least some opposition. A petition circulating through town Friday had 65 signatures of people who oppose the move. The petition will be submitted to the city before the public hearing.
Dan Usher, the associate pastor at New McKendree United Methodist Church, said the High Street church has taken no official position. But he personally opposes the move.
"My take on it is that this is a lot of change to gain five parking spaces," he said. "I travel both ways on this street, and it would be an inconvenience for me. It gets congested down here as it is, and if you start one way it will be that much worse," he said.
The public hearing will be at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers at city hall.