City officials are discussing converting a portion of the road to a two-way street following a presentation from Grand Haven Public Safety Director Jeff Hawke on Monday night. Hawke talked about the conversion of both Franklin and Columbus avenues.
Following the presentation, members of City Council said they were interested in seeing proposals for what it would cost to convert at least a portion of Columbus back to a two-way street, from at least Fifth Street to Harbor Drive. The move would be similar to a temporary measure implemented on Columbus several years ago when Washington Avenue was under construction in downtown Grand Haven.
Mayor Geri McCaleb said she sees Columbus being converted to a two-way street being less of an issue than with changing both Columbus and Franklin.
“There are some opportunities that avail themselves with Columbus being a two-way street rather than Franklin,” she said, referencing possible development along the corridor.
Other council members said they are also interested in learning more about the possible conversion of the street.
“The two-road, one-way pair is a vestige of a time long gone,” Councilman Bob Monetza said.
Related story: Columbus, Franklin: Why are they one way?
Monetza said converting part of Columbus back to a two-way street would be good for the downtown area.
“I think having one-way roads in downtown areas are hard on retail,” he said.
Councilman Mike Fritz said that while he was receptive to the idea, he is concerned with how much it would cost — especially if it was determined that a traffic signal needed to be installed at Columbus and Harbor.
“Street lights cost an awful lot,” he said. “If the cost of doing this is going to be astronomical, I don’t think that we can afford it. ... I don’t foresee us coming up with that kind of cash.”
During his presentation, Hawke noted that if it was decided that the entire stretch of Columbus would be converted, improvements would be needed at the intersection with U.S. 31, and additional signals would be needed at the railroad crossing.
”Cost is always an issue,” Hawke said. “I think the most expensive part would be the railroad signal.”
Following Monday’s council meeting, Hawke said he would get with the city’s public works department to come up with a plan for how much it would cost to convert a portion of the road.