Ferndale & Pleasant Ridge Give Updates on Woodward Road Diet

Ferndale & Pleasant Ridge Give Updates on Woodward Road Diet

(City of Ferndale, Sept. 7, 2021)

Ferndale, MI – Woodward Avenue is facing changes in Ferndale and Pleasant Ridge as the cities continue to work with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) on plans for repaving along with the possibility of lane reduction, and the addition of bike lanes.

As the process moves forward, city leaders in Ferndale and Pleasant Ridge are sharing information with the public about where things stand, including the likelihood that Pleasant Ridge would likely not be part of the road diet.

The City of Ferndale released an update last week, which we’re including below. Oakland County Times also asked the City of Pleasant Ridge for an update, which is included further down. The City of Ferndale has a dedicated page on the Ferndale Moves website for information and documents for this project, as well as info on how members of the public can be involved in the process, ask questions, voice concerns, etc.

CITY OF FERNDALE

(Kara Sokol, Communications Director)

You’ve likely heard discussions in recent months about a proposed Woodward Avenue “road diet”—an intentional narrowing to make the road safer and more accessible for all users. While the idea of such a project has been studied for years, it made headlines earlier this year when Ferndale City Council unanimously approved the City’s request to apply for a TAP (Transportation Alternatives Program) grant to help fund the project as part of the Michigan Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) 2022 Woodward repaving.

City staff had anticipated a July 2021 decision about whether we would receive TAP grant funding and MDOT approval for the proposed project; however, State transportation authorities required some additional research and plan modifications, resulting in a short delay. Final information is now expected in October.

What is the Current Status of the Project?

Following a required additional study and series of minor design changes, the City is awaiting a final decision about TAP grant funding and project design approval by MDOT.

As part of the project and TAP grant application process, MDOT requested an additional traffic study to compare to the previous study completed in 2019 by the Cities of Ferndale and Pleasant Ridge. Results from this study necessitated minor revisions to the design, primarily at the “transition points” of Oakland Park Boulevard/Sylvan and Woodward Heights in Pleasant Ridge, and 8 Mile in Ferndale.

The City has worked closely with local MDOT staff to find a compromise that meets MDOT’s traffic standards and the community’s safety and mobility goals. Revised plans are being finalized now; the primary change to the project involves diverting much of Pleasant Ridge’s portion through their shared-use paths and alleys, and starting the southbound road diet at W. Drayton or W. Maplehurst in Ferndale rather than at I-696.

Next Steps

City staff will meet with TAP grant coordinators on the revised project design during the week of Aug. 30.

City staff will seek approval of the final project design from City Council, including a resolution of support, at their September 13 meeting. This will be an opportunity for the community to revisit the project, hear about goals and desired outcomes, and review the final design that MDOT would create construction documents from and bid if the project is approved by MDOT officials in Lansing.

MDOT’s local staff will provide the road diet resolution and final plan to MDOT Metro and State offices for approval.

City Council will be asked to approve the TAP award pending MDOT’s final decision (anticipated: late October).

MDOT’s design team will work with City staff to finalize construction documents and bid (anticipated December 2021/January 2022).

MDOT’s construction and resurfacing project is slated to begin March 2022.

‍What is Woodward Moves?

Woodward Moves is a proposed project by the Cities of Ferndale and Pleasant Ridge to leverage MDOT’s planned 2022 Woodward Ave. repaving to implement several short-term safety and accessibility modifications.

Ferndale leaders have long sought to make Woodward Ave. more “people friendly.” The community has participated in local and regional studies over the years to help better understand how people use the road and the kinds of improvements needed to improve safety and accessibility. The 2019 Woodward Avenue Bicycling and Walking Safety Audit offered preliminary recommendations for short- and long-term modifications to improve safety on the corridor, and the 2020 Road Diet Feasibility Study provided requirements for the consideration of narrowing a State trunkline. The City has been working with MDOT to determine how to incorporate the short-term design solutions from both recent studies into the State’s planned repaving in 2022.

Proposed short-term safety and accessibility updates include removing a travel lane on each side of Woodward Ave., adding lanes for people on bicycles, and improving the crossing times and distances for pedestrians.

CITY OF PLEASANT RIDGE

(James Breuckman, City Manager)

No decisions are final yet and MDOT has not granted approval to any version of a plan to implement a road diet to allow for parking-protected two-way cycle tracks on both sides of Woodward, but it does look promising that Ferndale may be able to implement some version of this project. The proposed cycle tracks will be separated from vehicle traffic by the on-street parking lane to provide a comfort and safety buffer for bicyclists.
It is more certain that MDOT will not approve any major changes to Woodward in Pleasant Ridge. The issue is the Woodward underpass and how traffic flows on the surface and underpass lanes. Drivers using the two lanes on surface Woodward and two lanes on underpass Woodward need to be able to merge and organize themselves into the proper lanes depending on where they are going.
MDOT believes, based on their traffic models, that four travel lanes need to be maintained north of Woodward Heights on the northbound side. On the southbound side, MDOT is requiring that four travel lanes be maintained to the Oakland Park intersection, at which point the street will begin to taper down from four to three lanes. The exact design and location are not yet finalized. We may have the opportunity to use the little used existing right hand lane on surface Woodward between Poplar Park and Oakland Park for a bicycle facility, and then to use our parks to connect the bicycle facility to the on-street cycle track in Ferndale as best we can.
Pleasant Ridge is constructing a two-way cycle track on the northbound side which will extend from Sylvan north to Main Street as part of a separate project. We are working with MDOT to identify ways to connect this bicycle facility with the one that will be implemented in Ferndale so that cyclists have a continuous, convenient route on the northbound side that will extend all the way from 8 mile to Royal Oak.
The road diet will benefit not just bicyclists, but also pedestrians and businesses in Ferndale and Pleasant Ridge. But providing more space for people and bicycles on Woodward, and a better separations between vehicle traffic and pedestrians on the sidewalk, we can encourage more use of the street by people. Vehicle travel is important, but people spend money at businesses. Studies have proven that businesses do better after bicycle lanes are added to their street.
Based on the modeling we have done and MDOT has done, Woodward will still function well for cars with 6 lanes while we improve the quality of place on Woodward and project economic development benefits for businesses. Even if this project will not result in immediate changes to Woodward in Pleasant Ridge, it is a very important first step. Implementing a road diet on Woodward would be a major accomplishment, with our goal being to continue the bicycle facilities on Woodward through Pleasant Ridge as part of a future project.

Information and Resources

Woodward Moves Project Page

Ferndale Moves Master and Use Plan Update: The Future of Mobility in Ferndale

February 22, 2021 City Council Meeting agenda and packet

Community engagement: December 9, 2020 Community Meeting: Meeting video  |  Meeting slides  |  Frequently Asked Questions

January 19, 2021 Business Meeting: Meeting video  |  Meeting slides

January 27, 2021 Community Meeting: Meeting video  |  Meeting slides

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