While the trend across America was once a one-way street through downtowns that trend is changing and for good reason. We believe Aberdeen would significantly benefit by converting Main Street from a one-way to a two-way and with a two-phased approach we can make the change fairly quickly with minimal financial investment for the city. Such a conversion may not be a magic bullet but it is another big step forward in the revitalization of Downtown Aberdeen so we encourage you to support the effort.

Increased Traffic Downtown

Bringing more people down Main Street improves visibility for downtown businesses likely increasing sales, revenue and the tax base. Currently, southbound traffic is forced to drive around Main Street, with a conversion downtown would easily double its traffic based on daily car counts:

  • Main Street’s one-way section: 2,500
  • North and south of Main Street’s one-way: 4,750
  • Two blocks west on 2nd Avenue: 19,000*

*While 2nd Avenue may primarily be used for overpass access, diverting even a fraction of this traffic would be a huge win for Main Street.

BONUS: Turning Main Street into a two-way would also make it one of just a few uninterrupted thoroughfares running the length of town.

National Trends

Many cities in South Dakota and across the country are converting back to two-way downtowns with great success. Take a look at the impact after downtown becomes a two-way street.

  • Increase in property values – Louisville
  • Increase in vehicular & pedestrian traffic – Vancouver
  • Increase in business revenue – Vancouver
  • Improvement to the night scene – South Bend
  • Decrease in crime – Louisville
  • Decrease in traffic speed – New Albany
  • Decrease in vehicular & pedestrian collisions – New Albany

Recent & Future Two-Way Conversions


  • Watertown, SD
  • Sioux Falls, SD
  • Brookings, SD
  • Mitchell, SD
  • Cedar Rapids, IA
  • Des Moines, IA
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • New Albany, IN


  • Berkeley, CA
  • Charleston, SC
  • Dallas, TX
  • Louisville, KY,
  • Vancouver, WA
  • Denver, CO
  • Plus many more

History of the One-Way Main

In the latter half of the 20th century, many streets were converted to one-way with the intention of increasing vehicle speeds, a push brought on by the rapid growth of suburban developments. During the Cold War, civil defense planners continued to encourage one-ways to facilitate quick evacuations in the case of a nuclear threat.

Aberdeen followed suit on Main Street in 1978 as part of a streetscape project. Soon after, Downtown began to see a decline in vibrancy that lasted throughout the 80’s and 90’s, brought on partially by the increased interest in big-box stores and shopping malls.

In the past few decades, cities began converting their one-way thoroughfares back into two-way streets, based on research suggesting there are economic development, safety, and efficiency benefits by doing so. Other South Dakota communities are following suit as focus shifts back to the cultural and economic city center.

Two-Phase Recommendation

The Aberdeen Downtown Association recommends transitioning into a two-way Main Street in two phases.

Phase I

This includes no change to existing curb or streetscape. A simple re-stripe with the addition of four-way stop signs at intersections would be most of the work required to convert. Similar to Watertown’s approach, an additional stoplight would be added to the intersection of Main Street and 6th Avenue. This would need to be coordinated by the city and the state DOT and who foots the bill will have to be determined. Parking would be reduced minimally, losing an average of 1.5 spaces per block. This conversion could be implemented as soon as spring 2022.

Phase II

This phase would involve an optional new streetscape project. New outdoor seating/dining areas, new sidewalks, enhanced parking layouts and other decorative elements could be added. This could be included be implemented when financially possible for the city, with a goal of 3-5 years.

Phase I

  • Cost: $
  • Coordinate re-stripe
  • Four-way stop signs at intersections
  • Stoplight at 6th Ave intersection
  • Loss of 1.5 parking spaces/block
  • Immediate implementation

Phase II

  • Cost: $$$
  • Complete redesign
  • New concrete work
  • New streetscape elements
  • 3-5+ year timeline
  • Ensure new design is best option for the next 20+ years

Show Your Support

While we have done the research and are confident converting downtown’s Main Street back to a two-way street will be significantly beneficial we would like to hear if you feel the same. Join other downtown business owners, employees, residents and other community members by supporting this effort. If you feel otherwise, please share your concerns as well.

Not sure how you feel yet?

Connect with us for more information.

Alexa Sheldon, Executive Director

Spencer Sommers, Board Past President

Sources: https://bit.ly/3hOYEa9, https://bit.ly/2Z5lt2I, https://bit.ly/3nNnScD, https://bit.ly/3kmxoS6, https://bit.ly/2YXEfsT, https://unc.live/3AxKqSw