Conversion creates confusion

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Flaggers were out Wednesday in attempt to ease the confusion and traffic congestion after Pine Street converted to two-way traffic. (Photo by MARY MALONE)

SANDPOINT — Crews were out flagging traffic and law enforcement was on patrol along Pine Street Wednesday as the two-way street conversion caused confusion and traffic congestion.

"We've had heavy law enforcement presence out there just to make sure everyone is safe and is aware of the changes," said Sandpoint city administrator Jennifer Stapleton. 

She said the officers have been and will be out particularly during the peak travel times — in the morning and then at rush hour as people head home for the evening.

One block of Pine Street, between Fourth and Fifth avenues, remained one-way for eastbound traffic only. Not only is it confusing for drivers, but log trucks heading west could not make the required turn onto Fourth Avenue. The crews closed the north lane between Fourth and Fifth to all traffic at that time and flagged the log trucks through going west. 

Stapleton said a pedestrian bulb will be going in at Fourth and Pine, but in the meantime, it is difficult for eastbound traffic to see the stop sign at that intersection.

"Some of the signage, we noted today, is kind of blocked by foliage, so we are going to get out there and trim back some of the trees so people can see the signs," Stapleton said.

On their Facebook page, Sandpoint PD said the recommended truck route, specifically for trucks wanting to travel toward Priest River, is to use the Highway 95 bypass and use the north Highway 2 exit at the “Y” to Fifth Avenue and out to Highway 2. If trucks choose to use the south exit to enter the city, they are not to turn left onto Pine Street from First Avenue “ever.” Instead, the post directs them to proceed north onto Cedar Street to Fifth and out to Highway 200.

Fifth Avenue was converted to two-way traffic last week, and First Avenue and Cedar Street are under construction. Reed Hollinshead, public information specialist with the Idaho Transportation Department, said First and Cedar will be opened for two-way traffic by early next week.

"Drivers are urged to be patient and cautious as motorists get used to the new configuration," Hollinshead said in a statement Wednesday.

Stapleton said the striping on Church is scheduled for next week as well. A traffic signal was installed at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Church Street, which will replace the light at the intersection of Fifth and Pine and will be activated after Church is converted to two-way traffic.

Ultimately, all of the streets in Sandpoint will be two-way, except for two blocks of Main Street between Third and Fifth avenues, as well as the one block of Pine Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues. Both of these sections will remain one-way for eastbound traffic.

Mary Malone can be reached by email at mmalone@bonnercountydailybee and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.

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