Post office traffic to be rerouted

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 2, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

The U.S. Postal Service’s budget woes have dashed the city’s hopes for a new downtown post office in the immediate future.

But the city and Suffolk postal officials are teaming up to put a Band-Aid on some of that traffic problems created by the constant flow of cars turning from North Main Street into the post office parking lot, said Eric Nielsen, the city’s public works director.

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During its work session Wednesday, Nielsen told City Council that work would begin soon on a plan that would reverse the flow of traffic at the post office.

Vehicles now enter the post office’s small 24-space parking lot on North Main Street, which curves around and exits onto Western Avenue. The new entrance would be on Western, with exiting traffic making a left turn onto North Main, Nielsen said.

The city will also be adding four parking spaces along Western Avenue, he added.

Councilman Bobby Ralph, who represents the downtown borough, applauded the action, saying it will be an effective temporary fix to help alleviate the stop-and-go traffic that frequently clogs North Main in front of the post office.

Suffolk authorities have said traffic lined up waiting to enter the post office parking lot tends to be a source of frequent fender-benders.

Meanwhile, efforts to get the much-need larger post office in the downtown area are continuing, said Elizabeth McCoury, director of downtown development. The city has proposed the postal service consider two pieces of property along the Washington Street corridor or put a larger building on its current site.

Although a moratorium on constructing new facilities was recently lifted, it’s likely to be at least a year before the federal government begins building any new postal facilities.

State officials did not include Suffolk on the federal government’s prioritized &uot;to do&uot; list, which plays a key role in determining which projects are funded.

But U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes has made sure it is included, said Vice Mayor Leroy Bennett.

&uot;He assured us that Suffolk is on the list. That places us in line to get a new post office.&uot;