Orange Barrels Part of Traffic Study at Woodward & 696

DanMartinCouncilAdtopOrange Barrels Part of TrafficRed Door Realty Ad _own_your_dream Study at Woodward & 696

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Oct. 8, 2015)

As drivers speed towards the curve just before 696 on northbound Woodward, they may be surprised by the extra wide swoop they must make coming around the bend. With orange construction barrels marking off a lane, drivers must slow as they round the corner before deciding which lane to pick.

And that may be just what the intersection needs in order to be more safe and welcoming for pedestrians and bicyclists.

blumz05A study earlier in the year by the Gibbs Planning Group looked at the whole intersection – the messy place where Woodward, 696, and Main Street come together – to begin the process of designing the intersection of the future.

The discussion considered factors like the aging infrastructure of bridges and underpass, traffic volume and patterns, pedestrian and bicycle needs, access to the zoo, the potential for business development, and anticipation of Bus Rapid Transit.

The barrels have been added recently to study the shorter-term impact of lane reductions, not only at the most obvious curve, but also on Ten Mile Road which essentially serves as the service drive to 696.

Commissioner Jay Foreman explained the study. “Several months ago, a study was done by the Gibbs Planning Group, focusing on the Woodward/Main and 696 intersection. The seed04_gallowayfindings were that the intersection heavily favors vehicular traffic at the expense of the pedestrian or cyclist, and that there were many areas where safety could be improved. A list of recommendations was put forth, and a number of these recommendations were engineered to make the crossings safer and less intimidating.

“The lane closures that were implemented last week represent the first of the pilot projects from the Gibbs plan. The lane that has been closed on eastbound 10 Mile Rd. was found to get very low traffic volume as compared to the others, and closing it can make 10 Mile quicker/easier/safer to cross. The additional buffer that this creates between the road and the sidewalk could potentially, one day, add more green space to the south side of the road. As for Main Street, just south of 10 Mile, this was seen as an especially dangerous crossing due to the speed of traffic and the limited sight distance due to the turn. The lane closures here are expected to both slow traffic down and make the crossing quicker/safer/easier.

“The study is underway now, comes to an end on Oct. 19. Data will be analyzed to determine ChamberAd_01whether these changes achieved the desired outcomes. This will help to decide whether or not these changes can/should be adjusted and/or implemented on a more permanent basis.”

Funding from the study came from Woodward Avenue Action Association, an organization rooted in finding ways to make Woodward better – all the way from Pontiac to Downtown Detroit.

The City of Pleasant Ridge website calls the study “the first step towards implementing the short-term recommendations of the Woodward/696 Complete Streets Study.” It points out that south of 696, there are between 40,000- 50,000 cars per day traveling Woodward Avenue. There are eight lanes of traffic through Ferndale and most of Pleasant Ridge, but at the intersection there are 14. “This makes it likely that some lanes can be reduced without UrbaneAd_04negatively impacting vehicle flow,” the site says. “This study will test if that is the case. Pleasant Ridge will provide data to MDOT on the function of the intersection during the study which will be the basis for decisions in the future.”

Jim Santilli, Director of Traffic Improvement Association gave added insight. “TIA is using automatic traffic counters, which use pneumatic tubes to measure the number of vehicles at a point. Prior to the pilot study, TIA collected volume data as well (MDOT also previously conducted counts in the area). In addition to reviewing traffic volumes, TIA is observing traffic conditions such as queue length, and delay and lane changing effects of the pilot. The goal is to assess the impacts of the lane reductions on performance,” he said. “The before and after traffic volumes are needed to assure traffic patterns have not significantly changed due to the lane reduction. The results of the pilot study will be used to assess if a reduction of RustBeltAd01lanes, which will improve pedestrian crossings, is indeed feasible. This is important to determine prior to embarking on permanent physical improvements.”

Commissioner Jason Krzysiak has been engaging with residents on Facebook about the study. “This intersection plays a part in each of our daily lives and the ultimate goal as far as I’m concerned should be to make it as safe and functional as it can be,” Krzysiak said. “I believe a very valuable component of this study will be our own responses to it.

“Please, if you have a moment in the coming days or weeks, jot down your thoughts, pros and cons, and send them to our City Manager Jim Breuckman. He will make sure resident feedback accompanies the data driven report prepared for the city by the Traffic Improvement Association of Michigan.

City Manager Jim Breuckman can be reached at
citymanager@cityofpleasantridge.org.

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