Preston City’s newly designed State Street has some out-of-town drivers scratching their heads. Previously, there were two lanes going north and south through the main drag of Preston with no turn lane. Road construction finished earlier his fall. Everything seemed normal until drivers notice the lanes change through downtown. As soon as drivers round the bend at Stokes Marketplace and enter State Street, it gets a little confusing.
As the highway enters town, the outer lane becomes a right turn only lane, making State Street a two lane street with a turn lane in the middle. Also new are two bicycle paths that also go through town on both the east and the west side of the street.
There is still parking next to the curb on both sides of the street.
Preston Mayor Mark Beckstead said the main factor for the redesign was safety concerns from the State Highway Department.
“We asked them to present the options to the residents before making a decision,” he said. “We held public hearings and open houses and the turnout was sparse.”
After their presentations, it was obvious their concerns were justified. The redesigned street should reduce accidents and should improve pedestrian safety, the mayor said.
“Those that came and were educated on the issue and offered their input helped us make the decision,” Beckstead continued. “It’s really not that much different than the way it was. People were using the inside lane as a turn lane.”
Dr. Scott Fellows, whose clinic is on the corner of Oneida and State Street, said he’s not sure he likes it yet.
“I like the fact that people can park on State Street and open their doors without worrying about having your door taken off,” he said. “But, there have been more cars honking than before the lane changes.”
Tinissa Hanson, who also works on State Street, said there are people driving on the bike lanes making it dangerous for cyclists.
Using State Street may be a little slower, but it’s a lot safer now, Beckstead said.