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Collinsville IL May Finally Correct One-Way Main Street Mistake

July 2, 2007 Metro East, Planning & Design, Transportation 11 Comments

Downtown Collinsville IL has some very handsome buildings and Main Street is perfectly scaled. The downtown is also near death and has been for years. Despite a streetscape makeover a few years ago, downtown has just not taken off as others have. The difference? Main St in Collinsville is one-way only.

From the Belleville News Democrat:

Business owners are as divided as the City Council on whether Main Street should go back to two-way after Illinois 159 is widened.

The City Council has discussed doing a $70,000 study, as the Illinois Department of Transportation needs to know whether to incorporate a two-way Main Street into its plans for Illinois 159 by January. Though some councilmen had not entirely made up their minds, the council is split on whether to proceed.

It’s the same with business owners, particularly retail businesses on the east end of Main Street. The street was made one-way eastbound in 1969, with neighboring Clay Street one-way westbound, creating the “Collinsville Loop.”

The linked article is a good read, it seems some still think this one-way traffic plan, nearly 40 years in place, is still a good idea. It is, in my view, a major part of what is holding back the potential of Collinsville.

Last September I spent some time in Collinsville on a lovely Saturday afternoon. That morning, downtown Edwardsville just a bit to the north, was hopping. Collinsvile, not so much. A recent visit was pretty much the same thing.


Main street is one-way heading east. Walking on the sidewalk it feels like a highway, not a pedestrian-friendly place to be.





Above, traffic on Main St. can continue east, most turns left for northbound 159.   The volume of traffic crossing Main St. from 159 is huge.  Proponents of returning Mainstreet to two-way traffic correctly cite the fact that 159 traffic is unable to turn onto the bulk of Main St.  What traffic Main St has feels mostly like a pass-through to get to 159.  Regardless of Main St being one or two-way, I’m afraid of how a widened 159 will be passed through downtown Collinsville.  Click here to see all 53 of my images from downtown Collinsville.


Currently there are "11 comments" on this Article:

  1. I’ll do that $70,000 study for them. I can have it the next hour.

  2. homeless says:

    Check out the main street in downtown Edwardsville. It’s two-way and very nice.

  3. Amber says:

    You have to give them some credit, Steve. A few of your pictures show a very nice intersection as far as cross walks and striping goes. I couldn’t tell if it was more than one, or just the same intersection at a different angle.
    The small town I grew up in, in Colorado, did the same thing, long before I was born. The small downtown was dead, every was at the mall on the outskirts. They are also trying to bring life back to the downtown. Unfortunately, they are just putting in overpriced lofts, no reconfiguring of the one way streets that are pointless.

  4. bellevegas says:

    While we’re talking about east side downtowns, I know Belleville also “untied” their downtown coupler a few years back. They’re redoing the streetscape on W Main downtown as well. It’s worth a look.

  5. Diane says:

    Thanks so much for this one way/two way advise for Collinsville.

  6. anon says:

    You can’t really compare Belleville and Edwardsville with Collinsville. Both are county seats. Both Belleville and Edwardsville have much more to offer as far as destinations (unique) and diversity. Collinsville has been and probably always will be a predominately blue collar, urban class (i.e. redneck), sort of town. Trying to bring something different has really never taken off. Turning the streets back to two way may help make the downtown more ped friendly, but it’s the type of peds many are continually complaining about.

  7. Jim Zavist says:

    Denver was an early adopter of one-way streets, but since the mid-’90’s has worked to convert many “couplets” back to two-way traffic at the request of local residents and businesses. The biggest hurdle to not doing so is handling the existing traffic – the analogy the Traffic Engineering Department is a balloon – when you squeeze one end, the other end gets bigger – if you reduce capacity on one street, it needs to be provided elsewhere. Once 159 is widened, that argument should go away, leaving only the argument that “fewer people will be driving by and my business will drop off”. The reality is that this only applies to impulse purchases – any destination business will benefit from a more humane environment that slower speeds will bring. The only other logic for leaving things one way would be a switch to angled parking on one or both sides (and only one traffic lane) – adding parking may help overcome the other obstacle to increased business here – even though your photos show a fair amount of available parallel parking, you also state that the area is far from thriving.

  8. Shimmy says:

    I live in Collinsville only about three or four blocks south of Main Street(its hard to tell with Collinsville). And first off, I resent being called a redneck. Of course Collinsville is blue collar, its an old coal mining town…only parts of the town are what I’d consider redneck. As a younger child I use to walk up there with my brother and cousin every day to the Dizzy Dugout comic store and Ashman’s pharmacy with no problem and now I walk up to Dean’s liquor to buy a soda often. But now, things are changing. Collinsville, especially this part of Collinsville, is getting a lot rougher. Just a week or two ago Ashman’s was held up at gunpoint. As I am still a minor(17), my mom doesn’t like me going out at night anymore due to the large number of fights around. I think the rising crime rate in the town is a bigger factor to downtown’s success than changing it to two way.

    I can see the arguement where changing it to two way would attract more businesses, which would attract more people, which would lower the crime rate. But with what seems to be a large number of vacant storefronts, I just don’t see a large influx of business until other issues are address. Don’t get me wrong, I think you’re right in changing it might help Collinsville, but I wouldn’t call it the biggest factor.

    [SLP — I am not at all surprised that Collinsville is getting rougher — you leave downtown for dead for decades and that will happen.  The issue is what do you do first?  You do what you can — issues of vacant storefronts, crime and perception will take much longer to correct than the direction of travel on the road.  Fix what you can as soon as you can.  There will be some people willing to to give it a go downtown once Main St. is converted from speedy pass-through to cute shopping street.  Until then, you’ll see more storefronts. 

    Downtown Collinsville will NEVER take off with Main St. as one-way.  Period.] 

  9. lackadazeacle says:

    never mind about the town, how about the people in your town that are very bad for the comunity,tracy m evans, richard t evans of swansea are bad news.just keep that in mind.lock your doors and watch your back.

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  11. Will Fru says:

    “That morning, downtown Edwardsville just a bit to the north, was hopping. Collinsvile, not so much.”

    Pretty simple.
    – Edwardsville: college town
    – Collinsville: not college town


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