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Columbus Avenue becomes two-way Monday

Alexander Sinn • Aug 18, 2018 at 12:00 PM

Work begins Monday to transform Columbus Avenue in Grand Haven from a two-lane, one-way street into a two-way street.

The conversion will affect Columbus between Harbor Drive and Fifth Street, with new stripes and signage. This five-block section of Columbus will be closed from about 2 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday while the work is going on.

Signs have been placed on Columbus ahead of the transition to make motorists aware of the coming change.

The decision for the conversion was introduced by property owners along Columbus who said it would improve access to businesses, City Manager Pat McGinnis said. While the new direction will be permanent, the City Council can pass a resolution if it isn’t working out, he said.

“This is just taking the opportunity to test it out, see how it works,” McGinnis said. “City staff finds that two- or one-way is acceptable, as far as safety concerns. ... We’re really not risking a lot. It will continue to be a discussion.”

The idea of changing the city’s other one-way street, Franklin Avenue, has also been floated over the years, McGinnis said. Columbus used to be a two-way street, but it was made one-way years ago during a construction project on Washington Avenue.

“One-ways are not common,” McGinnis said. “People drive the wrong way on it anyways.”

A two-way Columbus will ease traffic flow during a construction project on Harbor Drive, between Franklin and Columbus, which also begins Monday, McGinnis explained.

City officials were not interested in extending the two-way traffic on Columbus past Fifth Street, as workers would have to contend with the railroad crossing between Sixth and Seventh streets.

John Martin, director of Loutit District Library, 407 Columbus, said he doesn’t expect the change will impact traffic for the library. People will enter the C parking entrance from the opposite direction, and overall it may prove to be a benefit, he said. It wasn’t a problem when Columbus was a temporary two-way street, he added.

“I was actually accustomed to it being a two-way street,” Martin said. “I don’t foresee it being a problem for people accessing the library.”

Jamie Paquin, head chef at Desserts by Design, 320 Columbus, said the wedding catering business will benefit from having extra eyes on their storefront.

“It will increase visibility, at least for our business,” she said. “We’ll get visible traffic going both ways.”

Owner Ellen Vonesh cautiously agreed.

“It’s going to be a bit odd for a while,” she said. “It would be nice if they could take it all the way out to U.S. 31.”

Melita Ewbank, manager of Lucy’s Deli & Market, 133 Columbus, said there will likely be a minimal impact on her business.

The Grand Haven Tribune, located at the corner of Columbus and Third Street, no longer prints and distributes newspapers at the office location, and Publisher Kevin Hook said business won’t be affected by the change from one-way.

Work is expected to wrap up Monday sometime after 5 p.m. and the new traffic rules and signs will be in effect immediately, city officials said.

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