How Will Drivers React to New Two-Way’s in Downtown Billings?
Get ready. Two Billings one-way streets are about to become two-way streets.
I work downtown, so my perspective of getting around is probably a little skewed. I know the streets, alleys, and shortcuts and I don't find driving downtown difficult. It wasn't always that way though. I remember the first time I came to Billings and the mix of one-ways and two-ways downtown seemed really confusing. If you don't frequent the area, the "oh crap, this is a one-way" thought has surely popped into your head, right after mistakenly attempting to turn on the wrong street. It happens.
N 29th Street and N 30th Street will become two-way streets in June.
Stoplight installation, street surface maintenance, and striping projects have been impacting traffic flow downtown since April when the project began. It's planned to be completed in June. Tourist season is just getting started and the timing is good for out-of-towner's visiting downtown, one benefit that was touted by city leaders for the switch.
Businesses and residents downtown are expecting confusion from local drivers.
N 30th is largely commercial properties, but N 29th has becoming a busy little street downtown, with Yesteryear Antiques, the Monte Bar and the Athenian anchoring the southern end of the street. Sassy Biscuit and Brockel's Chocolates are just up the block. The Downtown Farmers' Market now spills onto 29th, as does Strawberry Festival.
Jackie Brockel said they have mixed feelings about the street changing to a two-way. The fourth-generation chocolate and candy store has been at the N 29th St location since the 70s. One of her concerns was parking, and if it will be modeled like Broadway (slant on one side of the street, parallel on the opposite). Bonnie Perkins, the owner of The Sourdough Bagel, echoed similar concerns, laughing that she'll now have to look both ways before crossing the street.
It's going to take some getting used to.
Uriah Hatfield, a longtime resident on N 29th said he expects to see a lot of initial confusion from local drivers encountering the soon-to-be two-way streets. He felt in the long term it should make downtown driving easier and more attractive for locals and tourists alike. I think it will definitely take some time.