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A possible fix for Waynesboro's square

April 18, 2002|BY BOB MAGINNIS

The Waynesboro Borough Council has been arguing over whether to close in the town's Public Square on all four sides for at least three years, going back and forth between "yea" and "nay." Let us suggest a compromise that might help resolve the issue.

Back in 1999, the council favored closing in the square and eliminating 18 angled parking spaces on its outer edges, but in November a new member changed the balance of power from the pro-closing position to "anti."

Now another vote is coming up, but council members want to know whether leaving the square as it is would draw the wrath of PennDOT and cost the borough state aid. PennDOT officials they'll clarify that soon, but did say the borough would be responsible for any additional costs that result for its decision.

What that means, we're not sure. But the sticking point in this discussion has always been the parking spaces, and the fact that to leave them, drivers must back into oncoming traffic.

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Here's an idea: Outlaw parking in those spaces during the morning and afternoon rush hours, and prohibit those who leave the spaces from entering the main street directly. Instead those drivers would exit the square and re-enter the town's main street by going around the block and rejoining traffic at a signalized intersection.

The merchants would keep the downtown spaces and PennDOT would get a better flow of traffic. Just as important, Waynesboro would be spared what happened in Hagerstown, which went through several projects to redesign the square before coming up with one that most people liked.

Waynesboro should also look to Hagerstown to see what happens when a downtown becomes a bypass for travelers and shippers just passing through on their way to somewhere else, leaving dirt and noise - but few dollars - in their wake.

There's a balance that should be achieved between creating a free flow of traffic and encouraging a freeway mentality among motorists.

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