The Ashland Transportation Commission has recommended that Ashland City Council approve the original version of a "road diet" plan for North Main Street that drew fire from concerned neighbors.

The Ashland Transportation Commission has recommended that Ashland City Council approve the original version of a "road diet" plan for North Main Street that drew fire from concerned neighbors.

The commission voted to make the recommendation during a Thursday night meeting. The City Council will consider the issue Aug. 2.

The original road-diet plan called for reducing North Main Street's four car-travel lanes to two car-travel lanes with a center turn lane.

The road would be re-striped to make more room on the sides of the road for bike lanes and pedestrians.

That plan also would ban northbound drivers on North Main Street from making left turns onto Wimer Street.

But neighbors protested that would send hundreds of extra cars onto other neighborhood streets as drivers sought alternate routes.

Traffic studies showed traffic would surge on some streets and drop on others.

Responding to neighbors' concerns, Ashland Public Works Director Mike Faught recommended earlier this month that left turns be allowed onto Wimer.

Wimer and Hersey Streets would be realigned because they both connect with North Main Street but don't line up with each other, creating a dangerous intersection.

Including the intersection realignment as part of the road-diet plan likely would have delayed the plan's implementation from this fall to June 2012.

If the council approves the Transportation Commission's recommendation, the plan could be fast-tracked for this fall because it would involve only the re-striping of North Main Street.

The affected area of the street would be on the north edge of town, between Helman Street and Jackson Road.

Whether Council will agree with the Transportation Commission's recommendation remains to be seen.

Some residents, such as former City Councilor Kate Jackson, have said the commission is stacked with too many members with anti-car views.

While many neighbors opposed the road-diet plan, some neighbors, cyclists, pedestrians and others said it would improve conditions for people walking and biking on North Main Street.

The Transportation Commission will discuss the issue of realigning the North Main, Wimer and Hersey intersection in July.

Commissioners viewed the realignment project and the road-diet project as two separate projects, Faught said.

Reach Ashland Daily Tidings reporter Vickie Aldous at vlaldous@yahoo.com or 541-479-8199.