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Tuesday, September 23, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 62.0° F  Partly Cloudy
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Maniaci: 'There are a lot of good reasons to do it.'
Maniaci: 'There are a lot of good reasons to do it.'

Residents in the Tenney-Lapham Neighborhood Association have long wanted to return Gorham and Johnson streets back into two-way roads.

The two streets - which each handle 15,000 to 21,000 cars a day - have become major arteries. But the streets don't necessarily make for nice neighborhoods. Cars tend to drive much faster on one-way streets, and visitors can get confused navigating them.

"The neighbors have undying dedication to seeing it happen," says Tim Olsen, a member of the neighborhood association's transportation committee. He adds, "We haven't seen the same kind of commitment from the city."

As the city finishes its Downtown Plan and sets development goals for the urban core, some see an opportunity to make it happen.

The streets were made one-way sometime in the 1950s. At the time, Gorham ended at Baldwin Street, but it was expanded to connect with Johnson.

David Dryer, the city's traffic engineer, sees pros and cons to the idea. "Personally, I think the cons outweigh the pros here.... You'll have a little less traffic, but a lot more congestion. So it's not going to feel any different."

Bill Fruhling, a city planner, says the forthcoming Downtown Plan will likely recommend the city study the possibility of making some one-way streets - including Gorham and Johnson, but also Broom, Bassett and Wilson - two-way, but doesn't advocate in either direction. "Turning one-way streets to two-way is a pretty complex deal," he says.

Ald. Bridget Maniaci, who lives on Johnson Street, has mixed feelings about the idea. "There are a lot of good reasons to do it, but we don't have a lot of data," she says. "We have to [show] why this is good for the city, not just that property values will go up."

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