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Sylva to take public comment on two-way Main Street

sylvaAsk around downtown Sylva, and it’s not hard to find someone with an opinion about traffic. Main Street should be two-way. It should remain one-way. There’s not enough parking. The new parking area on Mill Street is a godsend. The recently installed posts and left-turn lanes are obnoxious and confusing to visitors, or they are a great way to slow the speed of traffic and prevent accidents.

But the town board has heard barely any of that conversation, Sylva aldermen said at their most recent meeting. That’s a problem, because with $10,000 of town funds invested in a study on the feasibility of a two-way traffic pattern that concluded this spring, the town will need to start making some decisions. 

“I have really been surprised at the lack of public interest in the two-way traffic study,” Mayor Maurice Moody said at the meeting. “It seemed like there was more discussion before we did the study than there has been since then.”

So, the board scheduled a pair of public comment sessions focused on downtown traffic, particularly on the question of whether the town should convert from one-way to two-way traffic. The first will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, July 9, and the second one at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3. The discussion will be fairly open, with commissioners seeking comment on any aspect of downtown traffic and parking patterns participants would like to speak to. 

“I think it’s important to get input from people that drive the road every day, that work downtown, that own businesses downtown,” said Commissioner Lynda Sossaman. 

However, two-way traffic is the issue commissioners are most hoping to hear the public talk about. 

“It seems to be the most talked-about issue, and I want to know what others think about that,” said Commissioner Mary Gelbaugh. “We’re sitting on the town board to represent the people, not just our own opinions.”

“We need the public to come and talk to us,” agreed Commissioner Barbara Hamilton. 

Once the two public hearings are over, commissioners will have to decide on a course of action. Moody said he’d expect the board to make a decision on the two-way traffic question by early to late fall, once commissioners have had the chance to consider comments from the Sept. 3 comment session. 

But any changes wouldn’t actually take place until much later. The N.C. Department of Transportation would have to sign off, and the town would have to come up with the money. Converting Main Street to two-way traffic would cost an estimated $375,000.

 “Trying to get things done is not just an overnight thing,” Hamilton said. 

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