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Healdsburg council surrenders to one-way furor

The first and only one-way street in Healdsburg proved to be so unpopular that the City Council has decided to change it back to two-way.

City Council members on Monday admitted that they erred late last year when they imposed a one-way circulation flow on Foss Creek Circle.

“I'm not above saying we made a mistake,” said Councilman Tom Chambers. “I don't think it's working the way it is.”

There have been persistent complaints about the confusing and “counter-intuitive” one-way traffic direction on Foss Creek Circle next to the post office.

The Foss Creek postal annex was made the main post office after the longtime downtown post office burned down in 2010. The one-way pattern was instituted after the relocation of the post office as a way to smooth the flow of the increased traffic.

Instead, critics said it has produced a lot of near accidents, especially due to close calls from drivers who continue to go the wrong way. There are other issues with sight-line visibility for drivers.

“I had a near-death experience coming out of Foss Creek Circle,” Healdsburg resident Chris Love said of being nearly broad-sided by a car as she pulled out onto Grove Street.

“You listen to people here and they're comparing the gates of the post office to the pearly gates,” Councilman Shaun McCaffery said of the warnings of possible fatalities.

Critics also said the city faced liability in the event of an accident.

The enduring controversy prompted letters to the editor almost every week in the Healdsburg Tribune. One speaker told the council on Monday that it's probably generated more letters in the newspaper than any other issue in more than a half-century.

City officials said the one-way direction was intended to accommodate big delivery trucks to Silver Oak Winery because truckers have an easier time approaching the loading dock from a southerly, clockwise direction.

There were a few speakers Monday, including some who work or own businesses on Foss Creek Circle, who favored the one-way system.

That included Councilman Gary Plass, whose real estate office is located there. He said he watches the one-way flow from his office window and it seems to be working, other than the occasional wrong-way driver.

”People honk their horn and they turn around,” he said of the errant drivers.

But in the end, he voted with his colleagues to change it back to a two-way direction.

City Clerk Maria Curiel said Tuesday that signage warning of the change will go up June 17. The street will revert to two-way on June 24.

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