Duluth's First Street to switch to consistent two-way traffic
The Duluth City Council unanimously signed off Monday on converting First street entirely to two-way traffic from Mesaba Avenue to 24th Avenue East. At present, traffic switches back and forth from one-way to two-way traffic four times on that same stretch of road.
The current configuration of First Street is confusing and dangerous, said Kris Liljeblad, Duluth's senior transportation planner, who noted that it's not unusual to see motorists traveling the wrong way, against traffic.
Al Kurtz, owner of Erbert and Gerbert's, 234 W. First St., said that if the city wants to achieve consistency, it would be wiser to switch the street fully to a one-way road. He cited safety and delivery concerns, especially given the busy foot traffic and parking pressure in the blocks around the YMCA.
Liljeblad suggested that contrary to making the street more dangerous, switching to two-way traffic should slow the rate of travel by 5 to 10 mph.
Both St. Luke's and Essentia Health have expressed a preference for two-way traffic to become the norm on First Street.
In a letter of support, Dan Cebelinski, Essentia's director of facilities, wrote: "A consistent traffic pattern will allow for a better flow of traffic for our patients, visitors and staff as they travel to our downtown medical campus. It will also provide easier access to our facilities and help reduce response time for emergency vehicles. We also believe the change will provide greater safety for pedestrians."