Lynchburg’s Main, Church Streets to become two-way roads

City leaders say it will take about 11 months before signs, pavement markings, traffic signals installed

LYNCHBURG, Va. – After years of debate, Lynchburg’s Main and Church streets are going back to being two-way streets.

The roads were changed to one-way roads in 1954.

On Tuesday night, Lynchburg City Council reverted that decision in a 5 to 2 vote with hopes of making downtown a destination opportunity.

Businesses like Gentlemen John’s Classic Barbershop on Main Street are constantly receiving updates from city leaders about the Main Street construction. Another topic of discussion now is Main and Church streets becoming two-way roads.

"I’m absolutely excited about it. I think that it’s going to be a great thing for downtown Lynchburg,” said owner Jared Hesse, who opened his shop on Main Street in August right at the start of construction.

He said that a two-way road will get more eyes looking at his business.

"To me, it just sounds like more traffic on Main Street. That’s just the better for our location,” Hesse said.

The idea was written years ago in the city’s downtown 2040 plan. And it’s why Jim Talian, the project manager for the Main Street project, is prepared for the two-way conversion.

"So I’m really hoping that I can find a way to shorten up the schedule and get Church Street converted just before we start the last phase of Main Street because that would help the detours a lot if I can get that done,” Talian said, who believes the project will be simple.

They may use the same contractor and making the changes won’t be disruptive as what you see on Main Street now.

"Most of the work will be on the sides of the street with the traffic signals, the signal poles, the signal arms. There will be some impact on the intersection the day the hang the arms, but it's a week-long affair instead of a yearlong affair,” Talian said

Main Street construction is expected to wrap up in 2021. City leaders say, it will take about 11 months before signs, pavement markings and traffic signals go up for the two-way roads.

Council members said they’re aware the change is not “supported by all stakeholders” at this time. However, they list specific benefits of the change, including:

  • Making downtown more of a “destination opportunity” instead of a “through-way”
  • Lowering traffic volume and congestion
  • Eliminating the “tunnel vision” effect that drivers can sometimes have when driving on one-way streets
  • Creating a better pedestrian environment
  • Boosting downtown business, as every business has the opportunity for drive-by traffic

When the council voted in 1954 to change to one-way travel on both streets one of the main reasons was to fight traffic and congestion and to favor the “suburban shopping experience,” according to council members.