E. Brown Street becomes one lane after accidents
By Grace Lovins
A reconfiguration of E. Brown Street in downtown Birmingham was unanimously approved by the city commission on Monday, October 26, finalizing the decision to reduce the street to one lane to accommodate a traffic signal on Woodward Avenue.
After two fatal pedestrian accidents on Woodward Avenue within the last two years, the city began working with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to have a traffic signal installed on Forest Avenue intersection of northbound Woodward Avenue in the hopes of increasing safety.
MDOT also informed the city that a crosswalk connecting Brown Street to the Woodward Avenue median could also be added if Brown Street were to be reduced to one lane with a turn lane at the Woodward intersection. The city commission voted in June to approve the reduction of lanes on E. Brown Street, between Peabody Street and Woodward, and directed the multi-modal transportation board (MMTB) to evaluate permanent road designs to recommend to the commission.
The MMTB recommended a plan to the commission that includes an extended curb on Brown, reducing eastbound traffic to one lane from Peabody Street to Woodward Avenue, a center median and pedestrian crossing connecting to the Peabody parking structure, and two right-turn-only curb cuts leading to Jax Kar Wash.
This new configuration will reduce the lanes on E. Brown Street to one lane for westbound traffic, create extra landscaping on E. Brown in front of Birmingham Roast and Lady Jane’s Haircuts, and allow for the placement of a pedestrian crosswalk connecting the south side of Brown to the median on Woodward Avenue.
While creating a recommended plan for the reconfiguration, an alternate version of the recommended plan by the MMTB included two parallel parking spaces on E. Brown Street in front of the storefront currently occupied by Birmingham Roast. Staff tossed around the idea of making the parking spaces limited to roughly a 15-minute period, but ultimately any parking in front of the business was decided against. Two members of the board were in favor of keeping the spaces in the recommended plan for the commission, however the majority voted to extend the landscaping on the street instead.
The plan that would have created two additional parking spaces in front of the coffee shop could be seen as the city favoring a particular business, according to city manager Tom Markus and commissioner Andrew Haig.