A double-line is shown on East Union Street, the hill commonly known as Jeff Hill. The City of Athens is changing the once pedestrian-only hill and now one-way street to a two-lane road after construction on the road is complete. Photo by Allison Hunter / WOUB News

‘Jeff Hill’ To Become a Two-Way Road

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ATHENS — Pedestrians and drivers saw a new sight on the East Union Street hill commonly called Jeff Hill: a double-yellow line painted down the center.

Officials with the city said the plan for the road is to make it a two-lane road to help traffic patterns come from the campus’ East Green and College Green.

“The university requested that we do something so trash trucks and other (maintenance and utility vehicles) would not have to climb the hill,” said Andy Stone, director of the Athens Department of Engineering and Public Works.

East Union is currently one-way for vehicles going up the hill. It was formerly only open to pedestrian traffic.

Instead of only readjusting East Union at the bottom of the hill, the city decided to change the traffic pattern of the hill itself as well. The change will be in effect after construction is complete on buildings at the bottom of the hill, including McCracken Hall and Jefferson Hall.

“The reason we painted (the lines) now is because the paint machine has to be put away for the winter and we won’t be able to put those lines down later in the year,” Stone said.

There will be no change to the stop signs at the top of the hill and no bike lanes will be installed because of the narrowness of the hill. Stone also said in studying the hill, they found that cyclists tend not to use the hill.

Stone doesn’t anticipate any problems for drivers in adapting to the change.

“We have seen people going down it anyway,” Stone said. “We’re just making legal what people have been doing illegally in the past.”

The parking spaces that were on East Union Street before construction closed them will be reassessed as part of the changes to the buildings and the road, Stone said.

A spokesperson for Ohio University was unavailable for comment on the changes.