AUGUSTA — Councilors accepted city officials’ recommendation to open all of Green Street to two-way traffic, but only after months of debate and by a 4-3 margin.

It was the end of a long battle about traffic flow on a 750-foot portion of Green Street between Water and State streets and a change that was recommended by a panel of Augusta officials, including Public Works Director Lesley Jones, City Engineer Lionel Cayer and Fire Chief Roger Audette.

However, some who use the street frequently spoke out against the change, including people who go to Green Street Methodist Church, which relies on on-street parking.

After Ward 3 Councilor Patrick Paradis said he didn’t trust Cayer’s analysis, Ward 1 Councilor Michael Byron responded to defend the engineer, who deemed the street’s intersection with Water Street safe.

“That is not an opinion,” Byron said. “That is a fact.”

Earlier this year, attorney Walter McKee asked the city to consider opening that portion of the street — where traffic now goes up a steep hill to State Street — to two-way traffic. That would make it easier for clients to get to McKee’s law office at the corner of Green and State streets. McKee said in July that he sees several cars going the wrong way there every day without incident.

Augusta’s Traffic Calming Committee recommended the change, with Cayer finding that parking on the street could be retained if the street became two-way and the 185-foot sight distance at the Water Street intersection would be for adequate drivers stopped there.

That distance isn’t ideal. The minimum sight distance given in a city road handbook is 150 feet, but it recommends 250 feet. The city has said the whole street was two-way until 1963, when the council voted to restrict traffic there. After Thursday’s vote, Jones said it will open to two-way traffic within 30 days.

However, some churchgoers have said the change could cause traffic to slide onto well-traveled Water Street in the winter and questioned whether the sight distance will be comfortable for drivers. Mary Saunders, a city resident who attends church there, said people parking on the street would have “a tight fit” if two-way traffic were allowed.

“I know there’s a lot of people within the church that are opposed to this,” said churchgoer Gary Alexander, of Augusta.

Paradis, who sided with them against the change alongside at-large councilors Dale McCormick and Cecil Munson, said he didn’t trust Cayer’s numbers “at all.”

“My eyes and my mind tell me they’re not reliable on this,” Paradis said.

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652

[email protected]

Twitter: @mikeshepherdme

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