Traffic passing the back door of City Hall on Willis Street has beentesting the nerves of visitors and city employees for years.

The one-block stretch -- a combination through-street/parking lot -- has become a "Bermuda Triangle" for pedestrians.

"Everybody at City Hall has a horror story about a car," Councilwoman Rebecca A. Orenstein said Monday of the street used by motoristsas a high-speed shortcut.

One of the last straws came when an 18-wheel semi rumbled past the building recently.

So the council voted Monday to make that portion of the street one way, from Longwell Avenue to Locust Street.

"People use it as a shortcut, but it is a parking lot first," said Councilman Kenneth A. Yowan, who introduced the one-way measure.

The council also decided to ban trucks on thatpart of Willis and to post a caution sign at the entrance to City Hall grounds.

There was plenty of agreement Monday on the problem, but far less on the solution.

Council President William F. Haifley opposed making the portion of the street one way.

"I would see it as a great inconvenience. It puts one block of one-way street in between two-way streets at both ends," he said. "I think it's highly unordinary to say the least."

Orenstein and Yowan voted for the measure, while Councilman Edward S. Calwell voted against it, saying he wanted to talk to Willis Street residents first. As council president, Haifley does not cast a vote in such matters.

During discussion leading up to the vote, a number of suggestions were offered on how to remedy the problem. Ideas ranged from speed bumps and speed limit signs, to a crosswalk and stop signs, to closing down the street altogether.

"You can always try a 'Children At Play' sign there," quipped resident Wayne Barnes.

The one-way configuration should reduce thetraffic passing City Hall by 30 percent to 40 percent, as well as reduce traffic on other parts of Willis, said Police Chief Sam Leppo.

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