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Birmingham seeks road diet for Woodward

By Kevin Elliott


Birmingham City Commissioners on Monday, January 24, unanimously approved a resolution seeking enhanced pedestrian and multi-modal features along Woodward Avenue and to have the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) consider a road diet for Woodward Avenue.


The city has long pleaded with MDOT to address safety concerns along Woodward, citing dangerous crossings across the state trunkline. State representatives put additional pressure on MDOT in late 2021, following the death of a Birmingham woman in September who was hit while attempting to cross Woodward at Forest/Brown. The death followed an August 2020 hit and run fatality of a pedestrian who was struck by a vehicle while attempting to cross the roadway.


Birmingham City Planner Brooks Cowan said the city is now pursuing a study of pedestrian enhancements and a road diet. The study is the first step in MDOT approving such enhancements.


The study will include an MDOT Road Safety Audit from Quarton to 14 Mile roads; performing a road diet study to reduce Woodward Avenue to a six-lane divided boulevard from Quarton to 14 Mile Road; evaluating the pedestrian crossings at signalized and unsignalized intersections; calculating gaps and identify additional crossing locations; reviewing signal timing along Woodward where pedestrian walk times can be increased; reviewing the use of service drives/parking areas along Woodward to determine how to increase pedestrian connectivity and reduce vehicle speeds; reviewing SMART bus stops and pedestrian connectivity across Woodward; and redesigning access at S. Old Woodward and Woodward intersections to improve safety.


Birmingham Planning Director Nicholas Dupuis said all of Birmingham’s various master plans related to Woodward differ in some manner regarding design recommendations, however they all share a consistent theme that Woodward Avenue’s current design creates numerous hazards for pedestrians, cyclists and public transportation users. All of Birmingham master plans related to the Woodward corridor recommend that the road be redesigned to accommodate pedestrian and other multi-modal safety enhancements, he said.


Commissioner Brad Host asked if there is any way for the city to speed up the process and have measures taken prior to the study being done.


“This is a process that is required to get something tangible,” city manager Tom Markus explained. “We didn’t do a road diet study before.”


Markus said improvements, if approved, wouldn’t be expected until next fall.


“You’re talking a very lengthy time before you see any physical improvements associated with that,” Markus said. “This is all part of MDOT’s process. You can’t get anywhere unless you go through their process.”


Commissioners unanimously approved the resolution seeking the study.

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