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Sylva temporarily closes Spring Street

Sylva temporarily closes Spring Street

The Town of Sylva closed Spring Street, between Mill Street and Main Street beginning May 6. The closure will last for approximately three weeks.

The purpose of the closure is to push all traffic headed westbound down Mill Street, and circling onto Main Street, down to Landis Street, without the option to turn left onto Spring Street. This portion of Spring Street is one proposed location for the construction of public restrooms  in downtown Sylva. The town wants to determine whether closing Spring Street permanently for the public restrooms would be too much of an impediment to downtown traffic flow. 

There will be traffic counters on Landis Street counting vehicles traveling both ways, as well as a sign on Mill Street giving drivers early notice that Spring Street is closed. When the town opens Spring Street back up, one of those traffic counters will be moved to Spring Street so that traffic can be counted there. 

“That will give us at least really rough numbers about what amount of traffic we displaced by doing this,” said Public Works Director Jake Scott. 

“If we try this, we will have a better idea of what would happen to traffic,” said Town Manager Paige Dowling. “Where would it back up? Will it back up on Mill Street turning onto Landis, will people on Landis not be able to turn onto Mill? And what kind of delay would it make?”

Through State Capital Infrastructure Funds , direct appropriations in the state budget, the town was allocated $250,000 for public restrooms. Earlier this year, commissioners discussed the merits of building public bathrooms on Spring Street and at the old railroad depot. 

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The town had originally planned to get a consensus about the trial road closure from board members at its May 12 meeting. However, staff consulted with Rose Bauguess, regional planner for the North Carolina Department of Transportation, who suggested getting consensus from the board as soon as possible resulting in the decision at the May 5 meeting. Bauguess suggested closing Spring Street early in May so that Mother’s Day weekend, Western Carolina University’s graduation weekend and Memorial Day weekend — busy weekends for Sylva — could all potentially be part of the traffic study. 

At the May 5 meeting, commissioners reached a consensus and were all on board with closing Spring Street, at least temporarily to determine how it would affect downtown traffic. 

Railroad Avenue will also temporarily change back to a two-way street during the same period of time. 

There will be a public hearing for community input on downtown public restroom locations and adjacent open-air areas at the May 12 Board of Commissioners meeting. The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. and will take place in Town Hall. 

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