Downtown Waco street near Magnolia Silos may become a one-way street

Posted at 7:45 PM, Oct 06, 2017
and last updated 2018-07-24 21:31:11-04

The City of Waco is one step closer from making a two-way street in downtown Waco near the Magnolia Silos a one-way street.

Jackson Avenue may become a one-way from University Parks Drive to 8th Street if the city council gives the proposal final approval.

Traffic Engineering Manager Eric Gallt said the change aims to improve safety in that area. He said people park next to the railroad tracks when there are large events in that area, which a safety concern.

"What we wanted to do is really define where you are supposed to park followed it up with no parking on the railroad side of Jackson,” Gallt said.

He said once parking is defined, there is not enough space for two-lane traffic.

Tyler Kay who is working on a mural outside of Savage Finds, an antique store on Jackson Avenue, supports the change. She said proper signage would help drivers avoid confusion.

"The road is very narrow. It doesn't lend itself too much room for two cars at the same time,” Kay said.

Joey MacArthur who owns Savage Finds on Jackson Avenue said he has to trust the judgment of city but he believes there will be an initial impact for drivers. In addition, he worries about people not being able to find his business.

"If you make this [street] a one way… they basically have to go around the building, which would make it much harder to find our shop,” MacArthur said.

Gallt said he understands two-way streets may help for visibility but when you have a situation that people are unable to go to an area, it becomes a deterrent for visitors.

"Having a highlight on making sure we have adequate width for travel, adequate width for parking and making it safe for pedestrians is really why we are going this direction. I think when you put all of those things together, that enhances business opportunities," Gallt said.

If the change is approved, the city plans to put message boards to advise drivers about it becoming a one-way street but the city anticipates there may be some issues at the beginning. In addition, signs and flags will advise drivers of the change.

“Every time you change a two way to a one-way or a one-way to a two-way, there is going to be a learning curve associated with that,” Gallt said.

Kay who is from Houston said when she visited Waco for the first time, she was unaware of some of the streets in downtown Waco having one direction of traffic.

"There was a little confusion with the one-way streets at first. I pulled out of restaurants and gone the wrong way, which I'm assuming is common for anyone that is not from the town,” Kay said.

MacArthur who is the owner of Savage Finds on Jackson Avenue said he has noticed drivers going the wrong direction at least once a day.

“I've seen a lady go two blocks and not know which direction she was supposed to go. It's about once a day. Either coming to work or leaving work,” MacArthur said.

Waco Police said they have ticketed drivers going the way on a one-way street not only downtown but also in other areas of the city. They said those ticketed usually are not familiar with the traffic flow of the area, which makes them drive the wrong direction unintentionally.

If the city council gives the final approval to the change at the next city council meeting, the conversion to a one-way street will happen toward the end of October or beginning of November.

The city is also trying to make that area a quiet zone, which would not allow trains to sound the horn, which would require additional safety improvements, including gates at every crossing, and barriers known as delineator traffic posts to prevent cars from driving around the gates. Gallt said making Jackson Avenue a one way would make it more inexpensive to make it a quiet zone.

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