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Downtown Ashland's traffic pattern changed in 1956

When was the current two-way couplet through downtown Ashland constructed? I'm pretty sure North Main Street was a two-way street through downtown originally. When did it become one-way?

— Robert, Ashland

This one took a surprising amount of digging, Robert, but like traveling on one-way streets, sometimes you have to go in the wrong direction before getting to the right place.

We started with the Southern Oregon Historical Society research library, where helpful volunteers helped us pore over catch-all folders relating to Ashland streets. Sadly, none of them shed light on Ashland's traffic flow. Ashland Public Works was similarly vexed by your query.

Our next step was historians and history books, which bore a little more fruit.

Ashland historian Terry Skibby was able to point us in the right direction by letting us know that the two-way traffic changed in the mid-1950s. That gave us an era as we went through Marjorie O'Harra's book "Ashland: The first 130 Years," which chronicles Ashland's development from its origin to the time of the book's publication in 1981.

The book notes that rising automobile traffic necessitated the change in Ashland's traffic patterns, and North Main became a one-way street after Lithia Way was cut through to handle northbound traffic.

From there we could narrow our search further and dust off the archives of the old Muddy Tributary, where we found a clipping from Nov. 11, 1956, "New Highway 99 Couplet Opened." The article noted that at 8 a.m. on that date, a Saturday, colored sandbags were placed to direct traffic flow at the fire station and on the Plaza.

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