84741 BJS_FarnamStreet

In this 2015 photo, motorists travel west on a one-way Farnam Street near where the road intersects with 52nd Street. Neighborhood residents want the city to stop the one-way sometimes, two-way sometimes approach on Farnam Street. 

Raise your hand if you’ve ever driven the wrong way down Farnam Street.

Put your hand down! Put it down! Grab the steering wheel, man, it’s Saturday! You’re in the wrong lane!

The weird, weekday, rush hour-oriented lane changes on a two-lane stretch of Farnam in midtown have long been a bane of neighbors and commuters. Talks have been had, meetings with mayors have been held, surveys have been done and Dundee-Memorial Park Neighborhood Association leaders are tired of waiting. They are turning to that very first, pre-Zuckerberg social media: yard signs.

Over the past couple of weeks, blue and white “Fix Farnam” signs have popped up along the affected almost mile-long stretch of Farnam (roughly Saddle Creek Road to Happy Hollow Boulevard).

Peter Manhart, a lifelong resident of the area and one of the sign-passer-outers, estimates that the neighborhood association has handed out some 200.

He’s got plenty more, and you don’t have to live on Farnam Street to get one. The goal is to convince city officials to keep that stretch of Farnam Street two-way all the time. Since 1958, the two-lane stretch has gone single-direction during the morning and afternoon rush. From 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., traffic must be eastbound. From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., both lanes turn westbound.

Manhart says longtime neighborhood dwellers might have that baked into their midtown DNA, but the proliferation of Uber and Lyft drivers, plus Amazon delivery people and Airbnb dwellers, adds new drivers who might not be as aware. Even when you are, mistakes are made.

I’ll neither confirm nor deny that once, in high school, I turned east on Farnam during westbound hours while driving the family ride. I steered onto the sidewalk to avoid oncoming cars and never made that mistake again.

City officials said in May that they want more time to see what impacts changes to the area, including the infusion of new apartments west of Saddle Creek Road, rapid-transit bus service coming to Dodge Street and a potential streetcar, might have.

Mayor Jean Stothert said through a spokeswoman Friday that she’s open to discussion and has city funds to study the area. She also said such a conversion is not as simple as it might seem and would require costly modifications to intersections and traffic signals.

But if you’re wanting a sign, Manhart’s your man. Visit dundee-memorialpark.org.

Metro columnist

Columnist Erin Grace has covered a variety of beats since she started at The World-Herald in 1998 — from education to City Hall and from the city's western suburbs to its inner-city neighborhoods. Follow her on Twitter @ErinGraceOWH. Phone: 402-444-1136.

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