Council changes streets to one-way

HANCOCK – There will be a change in traffic direction on two Hancock streets as a result of action taken Wednesday by the members of the Hancock City Council.

After a public hearing on the issue, council members voted to change White Street from two way to one way heading up between Reservation Street and Pine Street to U.S. 41. They also approved making Tezcuco Street one way south from Quincy Street to Hancock Street. Each street will also have angle parking on both sides.

According to surveys of traffic flows on the streets, White Street received 2,339 vehicles in the up-bound lane, and 3,356 vehicles in the down-bound lane in a 24-hour period. Tezcuco Street received 3,225 vehicles in the down-bound lane and 275 vehicles in the up-bound lane in a 24-hour period.

Several residents and businesspeople spoke during the public hearing. Scott Building resident Susan Burack said making White Street one way will be safer. She also approved of making Tezcuco Street one way.

“It should have happened a long time ago,” she said.

Mark Johnson, owner of Gartners Gallery on Hancock Street, said he had several concerns about changing Tezcuco Street to one way, saying having the street two-way is good for his business.

“The more traffic the better,” he said.

Johnson said he was also concerned about where snow will be put with parking on both sides of Tezcuco Street. He said he understands the need for parking in downtown and suggested a solution of building a parking deck over the parking lot for his store flanked by Tezcuco and Hancock streets.

“I’m open to that,” he said.

Johnson said he was concerned making Tezcuco Street one way will cause problems for the delivery trucks coming to the store.

Jack Eberhard, owner of the Book Concern Printers, which is on east Franklin Street at the intersection of Reservation and White streets, said changing White Street to one way could help his business, making it easier to get trucks in and out of his business. However, Eberhard said he was concerned making the change to one way may cause some problems for ambulances heading to Portage Health.

Councilman John Haeussler read a letter supporting the change on both streets from Northwoods Sporting Goods owner Rick Freeman.

During council discussion on the proposed changes, Haeussler said he believes the logistics of the change on Tezcuco Street will be worked out.

He said he doesn’t understand the concern expressed by people who say having to stay on U.S. 41 heading into Hancock will add extra time to their driving. He said that extra time will be about 30 seconds.

“It shocks me people are opposed to that,” he said.

Haeussler said White Street wasn’t built to handle as much traffic as it gets.

“White Street is not meant to be a major street,” he said.

If it turns out making White Street one way up is not a good idea, Haeussler said it can be returned to two way.

“This can easily be changed,” he said.

Councilman Barry Givens agreed with Haeussler that any problems encountered by the change on White Street will be resolved.

“You just (have to) give it time,” he said.

Councilman Ron Blau said he believes changing White Street to one way will cause people to choose alternate routes through neighborhood streets.

“It’s going to create traffic in places we’ve never had it before,” he said.

Councilman Kevin Hodur said he’s talked to residents in the neighborhood around White Street who said they’re concerned they won’t be able to drive up White Street when it’s covered with snow.

“I’m just concerned at this point that this is not the solution,” he said.

Mayor Lisa McKenzie said making White Street one way will benefit pedestrians.

“It will make White Street safer for walking,” she said.

Council members voted 5 to 2 to change White Street to one way with Hodur and Blau voting no. They voted unanimously to change Tezcuco Street to one way going south between Quincy and Hancock streets.