Transportation

One Block of Queen Street to be Converted to Two-Way

By Ryan McGreal
Published October 29, 2013

The City of Hamilton is converting part of Queen Street to two-way!

Yeah, don't get too excited. They're converting the section of Queen between Barton Street and Stuart Street - a distance of around 120 metres (394 feet).

Stuart is two-way along its east-west length and the southeast diagonal that connects to Queen, but Queen is one-way southbound.

After the conversion, which is scheduled to take place on Monday, November 4, weather permitting, it will be possible to turn north onto Queen from Barton and continue east on Stuart.

South of Barton, Queen will continue to be one-way southbound. At the current rate of conversion, I believe we can expect the other 15 blocks of Queen between Barton and Herkimer to be converted by mid-century.

South of Herkimer, Queen reverts to two-way again and is two-way up the Escarpment on Beckett Drive.

Queen Street looking North from Herkimer (RTH file photo)
Queen Street looking North from Herkimer (RTH file photo)

Queen Street looking South from Herkimer (RTH file photo)
Queen Street looking South from Herkimer (RTH file photo)

Queen may be the least essential one-way street in Hamilton. Last year, Council approved a one-way-to-two-way study group for Queen and Cannon Street. A grassroots committee undertook a walking tour and audit of Queen in April to identify opportunities and challenges for its conversion into a complete, two-way street.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By Spearin (anonymous) | Posted October 29, 2013 at 11:22:29

As your photo shows, there also needs to be a pedestrian crosswalk across Queen from the north sidewalk of Herkimer.

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By engineer (anonymous) | Posted October 29, 2013 at 13:14:40 in reply to Comment 93895

We need a pedestrian crosswalk for the one pedestrian (I guess technically 3)? So they are clearly delineated for the...one, two cars I see in the pic? Let's get some better evidence than that.
I believe there's a crosswalk just south of this pic that leads to the island...that would be more appropriate and provide a refuge area.

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By Spearin (anonymous) | Posted October 31, 2013 at 09:48:45 in reply to Comment 93902

I live on Herkimer ten doors down from that intersection and cross (read: jaywalk) that intersection almost every day (while my commute home from work by bus is down Beckett, and stops on Hess at Herkimer). I see many people dashing across Queen at Herkimer. Since an engineer apparently needs more data than anecdotal evidence from local residents, how about you sit on that island for a day and count.

All it needs is a zebra crossing from the north sidewalk on Herkimer, pedestrian crossing signs, with lights that flash when a button is pushed, so traffic will stop until the pedestrians have crossed.

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By anon (anonymous) | Posted October 30, 2013 at 10:32:43 in reply to Comment 93902

As a pedestrian who has lived downtown for many years one way streets are ALWAYS easier to cross. There is always a very long break in traffic due to the timing of the lights that affords as much time as a cross walk. Also not an issue is the one-way on Bay St. S. and that even has a school on 2 one-way streets (Bay St. S. and Hunter St.). That has never been an issue.


Lets stop wasting money on things that aren't a real problem.

For example, would anyone here dare try to walk across Upper James (any stretch south of Mohawk) during the day nevermind rush-hour. Compare that to walking across the one way at Queen.

POSSIBLE SOLUTION: Why don't we just poll the people who cross the street for a week( the actual pedestrians who use that area) what their thoughts are on the need and also present the cost to tax paypayers for the options. Money would be better spent.

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By Anon. (anonymous) | Posted October 30, 2013 at 12:15:20 in reply to Comment 93975

And how do you poll those pedestrians that avoid the area because they feel it is unsafe?

Hunter St. was only made 40 km/h from James to Bay (IN FRONT OF THE SCHOOL!) after a pedestrian was struck and killed at Park St. a few years back.

Why don't we just create complete streets everywhere in Hamilton for all Hamiltonians?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 30, 2013 at 12:24:27 in reply to Comment 93980

And how do you poll those pedestrians that avoid the area because they feel it is unsafe?

When the city installed a crosswalk at Aberdeen and Kent over the opposition of the traffic department, the number of pedestrians crossing there more than tripled according to a conservative analysis of the city's pedestrian counts.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted October 30, 2013 at 10:56:29 in reply to Comment 93975

Well, the Durand Neighbourhood Association has done just that over many years, and found massive continuing support for pedestrian-friendly infrastructure improvements.

Even more to your point, just this August 1024 ward 2 residents voted on how to spend $1 million on a variety of infrastructure investments and many of the successfully funded initiatives were indeed to improve conditions for pedestrians (including a new pedestrian activated light on Hunter at MacNab).

So, your solution has been implemented, and the results are in: most residents DO want these sorts of improvements!

I'm not sure if you have children at Central, but last year I did and you should know that Bay did not even have a school zone until late last year! It was added after pressure from the School, Durand Neighbourhood Association, parents and residents. And crossing Bay IS a problem for the elderly and those with young children: the traffic is going too fast to cross safely and during rush hour the gaps are too short.

Although you might not agree, the residents have spoken in a variety of ways (including formal polling) and DO support this infrastructure. You might think it is a waste of money, but the majority do not.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2013-10-30 11:05:47

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By Anon (anonymous) | Posted October 29, 2013 at 13:51:55 in reply to Comment 93902

Yeah. Don't worry about the kids that have to cross this street sans Crossing Guard (unless they feel like trekking to Aberdeen or Duke) on their way to school everyday. Maybe we just need to drop the legal driving age to 5 and get them all cars.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 29, 2013 at 13:31:24 in reply to Comment 93902

Beware an "engineer" who doesn't seem to understand the law of induced demand.

After the City removed the "Do not cross" signs on Aberdeen at Kent and installed a crosswalk - over the objections of the traffic engineers, pedestrian activity at the intersection more than tripled according to a conservative analysis of the city's data.

We have to design our streets for what we want, not what we currently have.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2013-10-29 13:33:15

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By engineer (anonymous) | Posted October 29, 2013 at 14:46:27 in reply to Comment 93906

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted October 29, 2013 at 15:12:32 in reply to Comment 93912

Hamilton has now adopted an official transportation hierarchy that places pedestrians at the top and private motor vehicles at the bottom. Council also signed the pedestrian charter, that commits the city to actions to improve the safety and convenience of pedestrians.

We also adopted, over ten years ago, a downtown secondary plan called "putting people first" that also said we should prioritize pedestrians.

So, these official planning and policy documents have very clearly defined "what we want".

We could have decided to adopt the "motorists charter", a secondary plan called "putting cars first", or a transportation hierarchy that places private motor vehicles at the top, but that's not what our elected representatives and planners did.

A lot of the frustration around here come from the fact that the City's very clear public declarations of "what we want" are not backed up by engineering decisions on the ground, which default back to convenience for motorists as the top (and often only) objective.

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By madmax (anonymous) | Posted October 29, 2013 at 14:58:51 in reply to Comment 93912

LOL. Only in Hamilton does an 'engineer' who doesn't want pedestrians to have a crosswalk at a major intersection have a chance of getting taken seriously.

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By Anon. (anonymous) | Posted October 29, 2013 at 15:08:59 in reply to Comment 93914

In all fairness, 'engineer' is probably like most Hamiltonians that live outside of Wards 1 - 3. There is nothing wrong with the streets there..........but don't you dare try to change the streets where I live to one-way.

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By engineer (anonymous) | Posted October 29, 2013 at 15:31:19 in reply to Comment 93915

I love being so popular...
For the record, I live in Ward 1, and walk around a lot. If common sense would dictate, we wouldn't have to waste money on lots of useless initiates. Dedicated ped crossing at Herkimer and Caroline? Why? I cross there daily and never felt unsafe...the advantage of one way streets is that it helps 'platoon' vehicles, making it safer for pedestrians to find acceptable gaps to cross.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 29, 2013 at 16:48:21 in reply to Comment 93917

the advantage of one way streets is that it helps 'platoon' vehicles, making it safer for pedestrians to find acceptable gaps to cross

Sensible ... and empirically false. One-way streets turn out to be more dangerous for pedestrians - especially children - than two-way streets - for reasons I would expect an engineer to be able to understand.

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By anon agrees with engineer (anonymous) | Posted October 30, 2013 at 10:25:16 in reply to Comment 93926

I agree with engineer completely. As a pedestrian who has lived downtown for many years one way streets are ALWAYS easier to cross. There is always a very long break in traffic due to the timing of the lights that affords as much time as a cross walk. Also not an issue is the one-way on Bay St. S. and that even has a school on 2 one-way streets (Bay St. S. and Hunter St.). That has never been an issue.


Lets stop wasting money on things that aren't a real problem.

For example, would anyone here dare try to walk across Upper James (any stretch south of Mohawk) during the day nevermind rush-hour. Compare that to walking across the one way at Queen.

POSSIBLE SOLUTION: Why don't we just poll the people who cross the street for a week( the actual pedestrians who use that area) what their thoughts are on the need and also present the cost to tax paypayers for the options. Money would be better spent.

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By engineer (anonymous) | Posted October 29, 2013 at 16:57:34 in reply to Comment 93926

No, clearly being an engineer means I know nothing. I've read enough on here to know the vast majority of readers here think engineers are useless.
And great...you have one article saying they are safer...a two second google search finds this: http://www.i2i.org/articles/2-2005.pdf . Guaranteed there are more, but as usual, jumping to conclusions based on limited information seems to be the norm...i guess you'd have to be an engineer to understand why that's not a good idea.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 29, 2013 at 19:45:13 in reply to Comment 93927

Do you wear your iron ring on the same finger that you use to make anonymous internet comments based on fear instead of facts?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 29, 2013 at 19:36:17 in reply to Comment 93927

I have a lot of respect for engineers. After all, engineers are responsible for a lot of the research that has contributed to our understanding of how transportation networks really behave and how to design them to optimize for safety and broad accessibility.

I have less respect for anonymous trolls who call themselves engineers but fail to demonstrate either familiarity or, indeed, curiosity about that evidence-based understanding.

I'm not an engineer but I am grateful for the contributions of engineers who are advancing the state of the art in the design of complete streets. If you are, in fact, an engineer and don't merely play one on the internet, you might want to get up to speed on this stuff before spouting off any more.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted October 29, 2013 at 17:12:27 in reply to Comment 93927

You must be joking! Next time spend more than "two seconds googling" before citing an article that makes you look like a fool. You are wasting the time of everyone here who has spent years carefully trying to understand the issues we write about.

Are you seriously putting up a piece of propaganda by the "Center for the American Dream" (a subsidiary of the ultra-liberterian climate skeptic Independence Institute http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independenc... by the thoroughly discredited Randal O'Toole as somehow equivalent to peer-reviewed journal articles in the Canadian Journal of Public Health (using Hamilton data), the American Journal of Public Health, and the Journal of the Institute of Engineers.

Many of the contributors here ARE engineers, medical doctors and scientists, in case you were wondering! I teach engineers and am an associate member of the department of mechanical engineering and would never accept such sloppy and biased work from my students. I am shocked that someone who calls themselves an "engineer" (presumably professionally accredited) would not be more careful ...

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2013-10-29 17:23:53

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By engineer (anonymous) | Posted October 30, 2013 at 10:18:00 in reply to Comment 93930

FYI - I'm not spouting off any more than any one else on this website...just seems that my opinions are different than yours.
And yes, I hold a P.Eng. licence. To get that licence I had to provide experience in the following five areas: application of theory; practical experience; management of engineering; communication skills; and awareness of the social implications of engineering. I would argue your 'rose-coloured glasses' approach isn't taking into consideration all facets of every situation...of course that is up for debate.
In any event, all I'm saying is that there are two sides to every story. Similar to politicians, I think that we both want the same thing: to Raise the Hammer, and make it a better place to live. We just happen to have some different thoughts on how to make that happen. I can respect that.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 30, 2013 at 10:45:48 in reply to Comment 93973

Headline news:

World is round? Opinions differ

Comment edited by seancb on 2013-10-30 10:46:02

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted October 29, 2013 at 16:47:18 in reply to Comment 93917

If there were a cheaper option for providing pedestrian crossings, that would be preferable. However, the only option for "marked" pedestrian crossings currently permitted in Hamilton at unsignalized intersection (i.e. those that don't already have signals for cars) is the PXO traffic light. Maybe sometime we'll allow the zebra crossing + signs option available in most other places.

The dedicated ped crossing has been requested by residents, through the Durand Neighbourhood Association and supported by our councillor. It has taken many years to build the support for this crossing. Another crossing (on Hunter at MacNab between the pedestrian underpass and YWCA) was approved in the participatory budget process.

You might "feel safe" dealing with high-speed clusters of cars, because you are good at judging speed and distance and can walk quickly to get across. However, children and elderly, as well as those who are disabled in some way don't feel the same. And at rush hour, the wait for a gap can be unreasonably long.

I felt the same way about the one-way streets when I first arrived, but the more I observed how they work in practice, the more I realized that they are really bad for neighbourhoods and pedestrians (and even drivers trying to find destinations in the core rather than just blasting through).

Since I've had children, it has become completely obvious that high speed clusters of one-way traffic zooming within centimetres of the sidewalk is an uncomfortable, often dangerous and unfair arrangement. Try walking with two young children along Main St or Queen if you don't know what I mean!

This crossing serves those wanting to go to the pharmacy, convenience store as well as the daycare and church. It is also a natural north-south route.

As far as I've seen, it is also very popular and well-used. It will be interesting to get the usage data from the city once it has been in operation for a while.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2013-10-29 16:50:52

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted October 29, 2013 at 13:27:41 in reply to Comment 93902

Given the the position of the island and off set of the streets, the island does not provide an effective refuge, especially as the "exits" from Queen North and South to Herkimer going east are designed for high speeds (not a right angle intersection).

This view shows how what should be an intersection designed for a dense urban neighbourhood with lots of pedestrians and cyclists has in fact been designed like a mini freeway interchange with large radius off-ramp style exits north and south:

https://maps.google.ca/maps?q=google+map...

This design greatly increases the crossing distance and the position of the island makes it useless as a refuge for pedestrians crossing either Queen St or Herkimer street. And allowing motorists to turn without slowing down appreciably is terrible design for an urban neighbourhood!

I live just around the corner, and can confirm that this intersection, even in its dangerous and inconvenient state, is well used by pedestrians. It does need to be reconfigured as a proper intersection with right angle turns and crosswalks.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2013-10-29 13:28:52

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By Anon (anonymous) | Posted October 29, 2013 at 22:50:01 in reply to Comment 93905

I saw a postie sprint for her life across it today. I'm surprised you still get mail delivery in the neighbourhood!

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 29, 2013 at 11:44:17

Don't get carried away with yourself Ryan. I mean, look at all the traffic in your pics. How could that mess squeeze onto a 2-way street?

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 29, 2013 at 11:51:39

Queen may be the least essential one-way street in Hamilton.

Challenge accepted.

Queen connects Cannon Street's terminus to King and Main. During this stretch it actually sees a lot of traffic as it effectively functions as part of the westbound highway - drivers going to Burlington continue onto York Boulevard, but drivers heading to Westdale or the 403 Westbound take Queen. Likewise, it allows drivers coming from York Boulevard to get to King/Main without slogging up Dundurn. Notice that this leg of Queen is part of the truck route.

Further, South of Main we have the Beckett Drive mountain access. Queen quickly carries traffic from King/Main to Beckett. That said, the 1-way problem forces Westbound traffic to cram onto Aberdeen instead of heading to King, much to the frustration of Kirkendallers.

Now, north of York/Cannon? Completely pointless. They're only leaving it that way to avoid the nuisance of reconfiguring the Queen/York/Cannon traffic light.

Now, I'm not saying this kind of usage for the street justifies it's 1-way nature, but it definitely is not the "least essential". I mean, cramming 18-wheelers onto that leg of Queen results in that beautiful accident photo you posted here a while back. And I'm sure all the kids walking to Ryerson would like to be able to do it on a normal street. So yeah, there are plenty of entries on the "con" column, but it's got a few in the "pro" too.

But I'm sure we can come up with a dozen streets that better-deserve that title. Heck, I could come up with a dozen streets that deserve that title in Durand alone, and another dozen in Kirkendall. I mean, for pity's sake look at this:

https://www.google.ca/maps?ll=43.252408,...

That's insane.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2013-10-29 12:01:25

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By huh? (anonymous) | Posted November 03, 2013 at 13:16:34 in reply to Comment 93900

your pro's are con's. the city doesn't need a "westbound highway" running through the city. that's what our actual west bound highway is for. everyone else can drive at a reasonable speed through a diverse network of multiple east west routes to arrive to local destinations

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 29, 2013 at 12:23:14 in reply to Comment 93900

The only part of queen that your point applies to is between york and king - for vehicles who want to get from cannon to king in order to catch the 403 westbound.

But Queen only has one lane turning onto King anyways - and it's three lanes wide. So it could indeed be two way through that stretch and STILL give a dedicated turn lane onto king - if the traffic data justifies it.

I think if we studied the numbers we'd find that every N/S one way is a non-essential one-way in terms of traffic carried.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 03, 2013 at 21:20:54 in reply to Comment 93901

I'm pretty sure it's two right-turn-lanes now, actually.

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 29, 2013 at 20:34:52 in reply to Comment 93901

This point is always forgotten by safe streets opponents (idiotic that we have so many in our city) - Queen is 3 lanes southbound from York BUT the right lane turns rights and the left lane has parking for 21 hours a day. That means that for the most part, only 1 lane is going south through King St. One lane. I would like to see one of these two cross-sections for Queen:

Parking on the west curb, bike lane southbound next to the parking lane, then one southbound car lane and one northbound car lane. Or,

Parking on the west curb, one southbound car lane, then a 2-way protected cycle track. This bike track could be continued all the way along Stuart St to Bay by removing one of it's 4-lanes (I'd love to see traffic data for that street. Brand new, paved, 4-full lanes for a few hundred cars a day probably). A two-way cycle track here would effectively connect Bay St near Bayfront Park and the new GO Station all the way to Queen and Aberdeen. It could link seamlessly to the Cannon cycle track by turning one of the two left turning lanes from Cannon to Queen into a cycle-track lane. It would also connect to the hopeful Napier Greenway someday, the Hunter 2-way protected lanes and the Charlton/Herkimer proposed lanes.

Personally I prefer the 1-way Queen with two-way cycle track cross section, but either option would be better than it's current configuration.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted October 29, 2013 at 13:24:49

"Last year, Council approved a one-way-to-two-way study group for Queen and Cannon Street."

I wonder how that's going...

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By Dave S (anonymous) | Posted October 30, 2013 at 15:12:58 in reply to Comment 93904

We are about to do an on-line survey for input http://www.hamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/195F2427-0FF4-4163-9AB6-3F8B058EBB44/0/Oct0291.pdf The Data collected from the Study Group is posted on Farr's and Mchattie's web sites

Cannon http://www.jasonfarr.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Cannon_Audit_Report_June.pdf

Queen http://www.jasonfarr.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Queen_Audit_Report_June.pdf

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted October 29, 2013 at 14:44:55

Hey - with apologies to Matthew Sweet - Change Doesn't Happen Overnight!

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 29, 2013 at 16:46:05 in reply to Comment 93911

Haha. Well played sir.

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By PearlStreet (registered) | Posted October 29, 2013 at 21:44:57

This is whole website is a trolling magnet. I wonder what is more entertaining, the school girl bitching after the article or the article itself.

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By RB (registered) | Posted October 30, 2013 at 13:12:37 in reply to Comment 93939

So true, so true...

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By Ted Mitchell (registered) | Posted October 30, 2013 at 16:28:09

Wow, this is an ambitious conversion! Kudos to the traffic dept for forward thinking.

Sorry for the dripping sarcasm but the City traffic guys totally deserve it.

I'd argue that the purely residential Herkimer, Stanley, Homewood, Charlton, Chatham, etc could be made two way tomorrow and slow traffic considerably while allowing more flexibility to get around while driving less distance.

One ways like Canada and Jackson make more sense since they are narrow enough to slow traffic. But really no problem making them two way also.

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