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Traffic study doesn’t address parking issue

By Holly Hollman

ATHENS — The city’s traffic circulation study discussed Tuesday by officials doesn’t address downtown parking or fixing problems like the railroad overpass on U.S. 72.

The purpose of this study is to create safer access to subdivisions and commercial developments, such as required turn lanes from any arterial street. It also looks at safe pedestrian and bicycle paths.

The study identifies roads as freeways, arterials or collector streets.

For example, the only freeway in the city is Interstate 65. An example of an arterial road is U.S. 72 and U.S. 31. An example of a collector street is Lindsay Lane.

The Athens Planning Commission planned to hold a public hearing on the study Tuesday but moved that hearing to Sept. 18.

Downtown business owner Mark White of Tortillas Blanco asked the commission about doing a plan to address parking as well. He said signs would help notify motorists where they can park.

Mayor Dan Williams said there are 750 parking spaces within a six block area. At downtown’s peak time, which is noon, 350 of those spaces are full.

“Maybe we do need to advertise our parking lots, and people need to take the imitative to walk a block,” said Ronnie Marks, the City Council’s representative on the commission.

He said the commission may establish a parking committee to look at issues, especially downtown traffic.

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