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Norman city leaders proposing a ‘Street Diet’

NORMAN, Okla. - Restaurants to law firms, downtown Norman is a draw for residents and visitors alike.

But, the popular three-lane thoroughfare is not without its problems.

"My car was hit by someone making a left from the center lane," said Syrup manager Matt Kossler.

He said parking is a real issue and a danger for folks backing out.

That's why Norman City leaders are considering reducing one-way Main and Gray streets to two lanes.

"If you widen the lanes, you create safety for the cars coming out in reverse. But, it also stops people making a left from the center lane or even a right from the center lane," Kossler said.

The 'Street Diet,' as it's being called, is not embraced by everyone.

Norman attorney Ann Harcourt opposes two-lane streets.

She said it's already a traffic nightmare.

Harcourt argues funneling traffic to two-lanes would create unprecedented congestion.

"A lot of us get deliveries during the day: UPS, Fedex or Office Depot and Copeland. If we are down to two lanes and you have a 50 percent blockage, it's going to be a headache. Already, it's a headache, when they block one lane and it narrows to two."

But, city leaders said the 'Street Diet' would be great for the quaint shopping district.

"This was a request from some of the merchants. It'll slow traffic down, so motorists can see the great businesses and restaurants we have to offer and increase business," said city engineer Scott Sturtz.

But, will it be a gift of accessibility and safety or a holiday headache?

"Only time will tell," Harcourt said.

The Norman City Council could vote on the 'Street Diet' during the December 13 session.