SALISBURY — Motorists in Salisbury might need to change their daily commutes, as Bateman Street is officially being adapted from a two-way road to one-way westbound between South Division Street and Wayne Street.
The Salisbury City Council also voted during the same special meeting Monday to accept a gift from Salisbury University (SU) that will go toward streetscaping on nearby Onley Road, including pedestrian crossings and lighting.
The change to Bateman was endorsed during a public hearing by almost 20 Salisbury residents decked out in orange shirts, many of which were associated with SU. A large number were also cycling enthusiasts and the bike lanes that will be added to Bateman once it becomes one-way was their main reason for supporting the change.
“Bike lanes in our city greatly improve the quality of life of citizens,” said Mike Drew, a resident and engineer who is helping lead the charge for installing a biking network in Salisbury.
Besides the brightly colored cluster of supporters in the audience, Drew informed the council that hundreds more in the city have expressed an interest in bike lanes.
“There’s a tremendous amount of support for this in the community,” he said.
Resident Joseph Howard agreed, saying that the call to make Bateman one-way, which has come up under previous councils, “serves the best percentage.”
“I think this plan is by far the best I’ve seen put forward,” he said.
Besides bike lanes, the change to Bateman will mean a traffic signal, pedestrian crosswalks and pedestrian indications at the intersection of Onley and South Division. According to Drew, the changes are important considering how much the community relies on the street.
“The section of Bateman Street is actually one of the highest potential travel ways,” he said.
Dr. Tom Horton, a professor at SU, told the council that the entire process, which has roots back several years, has served as a strong study into how local government operates.
“A number of my students got involved with this years ago,” he said.
Horton also lent his support to the Bateman change, believing that it would ease the commute for many students from Salisbury into SU.
While backing for going one-way with Bateman was extensive, it wasn’t unanimous.
“The act is bad for the taxpaying businesses,” asserted resident Dot Truitt.
She warned the council that eliminating the proposed section of Bateman’s ability to go east would encourage residents in some parts of town to travel to nearby Fruitland to shop.
“We don’t have enough streets that access Route 13 from South Division,” said Truitt. “Travel is different in this area.”
Some of Truitt’s concerns were echoed by council members, who admitted that the proposed changes to Bateman aren’t ideal by themselves for the long-term.
“I think we do need to look regionally,” said Council President Terry Cohen.
Cohen went on to say that she would like to see the potential for some traffic calming steps taken in the area in the future. Public Works Director Teresa Gardner assured Cohen and the council such measures could happen in the future.
“Traffic calming is not off of the table,” she said.
Gardner confirmed that her department has done “some interim studies of that specific area” and that “everybody’s on our radar.”
The council voted 4-0 to go ahead with the changes to Bateman. In a second vote, also 4-0, it agreed to accept the gift of streetscaping from SU.