MANITOWOC – Two-way traffic on Eighth and 10th streets is live today.
The two streets have had new lines painted and new street signs hung in the past few weeks to facilitate the change.
In an effort to remind drivers to only drive on the correct side of those streets, the city has kept one lane of each blocked off. Electronic signs indicating the change in traffic patterns were also posted.
In a Facebook post, Mayor Justin Nickels indicated that the traffic signals on those streets will flash red today, and possibly the next several days, to slow traffic and make drivers more aware of the new traffic pattern.
It will also give city engineers more time to reconfigure the traffic signals for the new traffic flow, which may have to be adjusted in the weeks to come.
The change in the two most prominent roadways in Manitowoc’s downtown area has created a buzz throughout the community. One Eighth Street restaurant, Brix, is even hosting a traffic watch party.
According to the event page on Facebook, patrons are invited to choose a front row seat for the “historic traffic pattern change” when they open at 11 a.m.
The plan to convert the two one-way streets began last year when the city council approved the change at its August 2021 meeting.
“We have so many opportunities,” Nickels said at that meeting. “People are excited about downtown again.”
The city has three studies from the past 13 years that encouraged switching the streets to a two-way configuration — the 2018 Downtown Parking Analysis, the 2009 Port of Manitowoc Downtown & River Corridor Master Plan, and the 2009 City of Manitowoc Comprehensive Master Plan.
The 2018 Downtown Master Plan mentioned the one-way configuration of the streets but said there seemed to be little interest from the community in changing it.
Both streets had been one-way since 1960.
The original ordinance had the one-way configuration set for a 120-day trial run; that trial run also involved Marshall and Franklin streets, which returned to a two-way system later that same year.
Later that year, the city posed the question of whether to keep Eighth and 10th streets one-way streets to voters in a November referendum. Manitowoc citizens voted to keep the one-way streets by a 300-vote margin.
This article originally appeared on Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter: Manitowoc's Eighth, 10th streets in downtown open to two-way traffic