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 our conclusions are based on the success stories of cities across America making the same investments in their communities. Two-way conversions show proven economic development, increased safety, successful vehicle and pedestrian traffic, and efficiency benefits. 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 two-way conversion Main Street’s traffic will increase substantially. A study was recently done by a South Dakota engineering firm, HDR, to look at converting our Main Street to a two-way street. That study concluded a conversion will increase daily traffic past local businesses on Main Street by an average of 750 cars per day and it will also increase pedestrian traffic.

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
  • 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.

Over the past two decades, businesses and shoppers have been drawn back to the historic charm of main streets across America. Other South Dakota communities are following suit as the focus shifts back to the cultural and economic city center. Here in Aberdeen, we all feel the energy and momentum brewing in our own downtown. The private sector is investing in downtown with renovations on nearly every block. We’re asking the city to invest in the heart of Aberdeen as well.

Traffic Study Report

In HDR’s recently released traffic study report, two options to successfully execute the two-way conversion were outlined. We are proponents of Option A. While this option would result in slightly slower intersection and side street times than Option B, it passes all Levels of Service on even the busiest of days. For us, slower intersections aren’t a bad thing, we want to slow people down a bit so they notice what Main Street has to offer. Option A is also less expensive and doesn’t require the elimination of parking on the west side of the 500 block.

Option A

Option B

More from HDR’s Study

  • Option A affects parking minimally
  • Option A includes a contingency line-item amount of $420,000.
  • Option A improves upon the current one-way street in traffic calming, pedestrian crossing, unfamiliar driver expectancy, and business access.
  • Option B decreases the ease of delivery truck parking on Main Street, however several options for mitigating this issue are included.
  • The report references additional links which state the inefficiencies of one-way streets and notes many communities are converting back to two-way main streets for that reason.

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