Lawsuit seeks removal of McPherson Lane barricade

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A barricade on McPherson Lane has forced some neighborhood residents to navigate the busy intersection of Augusta Street and Faris Road. Photo by Will Crooks.

A lawsuit filed Tuesday against the city of Greenville and the Greenville City Council seeks the removal of the barricade that turned part of McPherson Lane into a one-way street.

Fred Crawford and Marc Balsa, described in the lawsuit as residents of Greenville and users of city streets including McPherson, are suing individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated.

The lawsuit comes on the heels of a more-than-year-long contentious battle over whether a barricade that turned one block of McPherson into a one-way street would be permanent. The Greenville City Council ultimately decided in May to keep the barricade as a traffic-calming measure, preventing motorists from using McPherson, a small residential street, to escape from or avoid the traffic gridlock on Augusta Street.

Residents of McPherson and four other nearby streets — Warner Street, McDaniel Court, Camille Avenue, and Cothran Street — said they were promised the barricade as an answer to their concerns over increased traffic because of the redeveloped shopping center at the corner of Augusta and Faris Road. But residents of other streets in the neighborhood objected to the one-way, saying they weren’t notified the barricade would be erected and their streets were being adversely affected by increased traffic.

The city has since said it will change its traffic-calming process and one-ways and street closures will not be options.

According to the lawsuit, a city councilman who resided on that part of McPherson Lane advocated with city engineering and planning for closure of the inbound half of McPherson, and stated he would vote for pending zoning change on Augusta Street only if McPherson was closed to incoming traffic. The councilman was David Sudduth, who lost his bid for re-election.

“The purpose of this closure was to limit the automobile traffic on McPherson Lane and four small adjoining streets, for the benefit of a group of residents living on or near McPherson Lane, including the City Councilman, and to the detriment of the other users of McPherson Lane, to the detriment of City residents as a whole, and to the detriment of the public,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit alleges the partial closing of McPherson Lane wrongfully interferes with the free and lawful flow of traffic on a city street dedicated to public use. Closing the street for the benefit of a few residents is also a breach of the public-trust doctrine, the lawsuit said. The city did not comply with “many sections” of its rules pertaining to traffic-calming devices and procedures, or the state Department of Transportation official traffic-calming guidelines for road closures, the lawsuit said.

More than 70 percent of residents on McPherson and the four other streets voted in favor of making the barricade permanent and installing three speed bumps. The lawsuit alleges that if the city allowed all affected by the closure to vote, the outcome would have been different and McPherson Lane would not have been closed. Not allowing all affected by the closure to participate was a breach of the equal-protection clauses of the federal and state constitution, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction requiring the removal of the barrier as well as costs and attorneys’ fees. Greenville attorney Jim Carpenter filed the lawsuit.

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