City officials are inviting local residents to share their opinions about a proposal to reduce the number of car lanes on North Main Street to create more room for bicyclists and pedestrians.

City officials are inviting local residents to share their opinions about a proposal to reduce the number of car lanes on North Main Street to create more room for bicyclists and pedestrians.

The Ashland Transportation Commission will take public comments during a meeting that starts at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Ashland Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main St. The commission will then make a recommendation to the Ashland City Council, which must approve it.

North Main Street's four vehicle lanes would be reduced to two with a center turn lane. Bicycle lanes would be added in places where they now don't exist. The changes would be made to North Main Street from Bush Street, just north of downtown, to Jackson Road near where North Main Street dips below a railroad bridge.

City officials have proposed repainting stripes on the road so that the changes could be temporary. North Main Street could be put on the "road diet" in time for the alterations to be tested during Ashland's tourist season.

"If we, the community, like how it works during the summer, we can feel confident that it will work year-round because the summer is when we experience the highest traffic volumes on North Main Street," city officials said in a road diet "Frequently Asked Questions" paper.

Changing the road to add a center turn lane could reduce the number of rear-end vehicle accidents. Reducing the number of travel lanes also could lower vehicle speeds, while the added bike lanes could improve safety for cyclists, officials said. They predicted the changes would slightly increase vehicle congestion but not travel times. A traffic analysis showed the altered road could handle traffic volumes as they increase over the next 25 years.

Drivers could be barred from making left-hand turns from Hersey Street onto southbound North Main Street, from Wimer Street onto northbound North Main, and from northbound North Main onto Wimer. The center turn lane would only allow drivers to turn left off southbound North Main onto Hersey, according to drawings of the proposed changes.

In part because Wimer and Hersey streets do not line up on either side of North Main, the intersection of the three roads has a high collision rate. Drivers could also be barred from turning left from Coolidge Street onto northbound North Main.

The proposed North Main center turn lane could be used to turn both left and right at most of the other intersections along the route.

For more information and to see diagrams of the proposed road changes, visit www.dailytidings.com/nmainroaddiet.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.