Give the couplet a chance

Changes to downtown’s streets will benefit the community

Let’s face it: Second Street downtown is a mess. We know this because we have a bird’s eye view of it. The CN&R’s offices overlook the intersection of East Second, First and Flume streets. It’s the funky junction that is actually a five-way crossroads that connects Second to either the Camellia Way bridge or the easternmost section of East First—that weird little angled segment starting at the rear of the CN&R building and ending at Orient.

Yeah, it’s confusing. We can’t tell you how many fender-benders we’ve witnessed outside our windows. We think the city’s plan to construct a roundabout at that spot is a good one. Roundabouts seem to be working well on Manzanita Avenue near Five-Mile and Upper Park.

Most controversial in the city’s recently approved First and Second Street Couplet Project is the plan to transform Second Street one-way eastbound from Broadway to Flume and First Street into a one-way westbound from East Second to Salem.

A lot of people are apprehensive of the plan, but we chalk up most of that to simple resistance to change. Overall, the modification will benefit a wide variety of citizens. First, the changes will help reduce emissions associated with idling traffic, especially on Second Street. That’s an important factor, since it’s what will help secure a grant that will pay for the majority of the $1.3 million project.

Then, there are the more obvious benefits. Class 2 bike lanes will make the streets safer for cyclists; bulbing at several intersections will make walking safer; the roundabout will eliminate a risky intersection; and additional parking should make local business owners (and customers) happy.

At a recent City Council meeting, city staff seemed amenable to working with locals to smooth out some of the kinks. We hope they come through on that. This is a good project, but there’s no saying it can’t be improved.