There is no question problems exist on Church and Main streets in Honesdale.
That is without a doubt.
However, what are the root causes of the problems?
That central question seems to have eluded a committee which was established to study the one-way street situation.
It appears to us the committee is more bent on trying to revert back to the previous arrangement of two-way traffic.
But that is not why the committee was established. It was established to gather information, most importantly public comment, and make some recommendations.
An attempt was made Monday night by councilman Bob Jennings to get the ball rolling back to having two-way streets, however, the motion had to be withdrawn. Jennings said the motion was simply to start conversations with PennDOT.
That's simply not the case.
Part of the motion read, "... approve and authorize a return of conventional two-way traffic ..."
That's pretty clear and it's very premature.
There's no question the public is split when it comes to the issue.
However, one point which the committee seems to not be listening to is that they should be spending their time and energy trying to improve the present situation.
There are many good reasons for this to happen.
The foremost is safety. Some major changes could be made which would make the streets safer.
Members of the public have chimed in on some of these measures.
Having much better signage coming into and through the borough would be a tremendous benefit. Drivers need to know which lane to get in when they come into town. Very large signs need to direct that traffic to cut down on problems.
Page 2 of 3 - Speed minders, too, are an asset to the community. Just sit and watch traffic when the speed minders are on and you will see the majority of drivers slowing down.
Another much-needed improvement is getting the lines painted on the streets. This single issue has caused so many problems they are too great to count. Clearly marked lanes are a must and we simply don't have that in Honesdale.
Re-configuring the crosswalks, too, needs to take place. The crosswalks are very dangerous in Honesdale because cars in one lane might stop but then in the second lane, they don't. Having clearly marked crosswalks and plenty of signs, complete with flashing lights, would greatly improve this situation.
The committee should also think about the possibility of installing three-way stops at select intersections. One of the biggest complaints of the one-way streets is that traffic moves along too quickly. Stopping them a couple of times on Church and Main streets would resolve that problem.
It would also improve the crosswalks at those locations. We'd bet if there were stops, pedestrians would migrate to those intersections in order to safely cross the street.
Those are just some ideas and there are certainly plenty more out there to be discussed. That's where the committee needs to focus and they can do so by calling public meetings, advertised well in advance, to get the discussion started.
Another major issue which never seems to gets discussed is cost.
What if PennDOT did agree to allow the streets to go back to two-way? Would they pay for it?
PennDOT spent tons of money to reconfigure the streets, including building a new bridge on Church Street. It is highly unlikely, given the shambles of the state's road budget, they would agree to spend more to go back in time.
That would then leave the burden on the taxpayers of the borough and that would certainly not fly.
Page 3 of 3 - Where would the money come from? Taxpayers are already strapped to the limit and it's doubtful many would agree to pay more money to change things back to the way they were.
That may be the central reason the committee should step back and re-think its business.
What is best for the community?
Safer streets is the answer and there are ways to make it work in the current configuration. One-way streets work well in cities and towns across this country. There's no reason it can't work in Honesdale.
We hope the committee will start a series of public meetings to understand how the community feels, not just how certain people feel. That is critical for them to understand how to proceed.