Eton project includes bike lanes, traffic calming
By Lisa Brody
After studying the traffic concerns related to Eton Road between Yosemite and 14 Mile roads for several years, the city's multimodal transportation board recommended adding pedestrian bump outs, painted bike lanes, removing parking along the west side of the roadway as it plans to resurface the street as part of Birmingham's 2023-2024 capital improvements, and Birmingham city commissioners unanimously agreed at their meeting on Monday, July 25.
Birmingham planner Brooks Cowan explained the city will be resurfacing Eton Road between Yosemite and 14 Mile roads next summer, and as part of that endeavor, they have looked into how they can best improve the roadway. The city's multimodal transportation board (MMTB) broke it into two projects, from Yosemite to Lincoln, and from Lincoln to 14 Mile Road to better determine how each part of the street should be improved.
“Upon review, the MMTB has recommended that the section of S. Eton between Lincoln Avenue and Yosemite be designed with bike lanes on each side of the road, on-street parking on the eastern Rail District side, pedestrian bumpouts reducing crossing distance at intersections, and additional safety signage to improve crossing safety. This design aligns with what exists on N. Eton between Yorkshire and Derby, and is consistent with the city’s existing bike lane and pedestrian bump out designs,” Cowan said.
“The MMTB also recommended that S. Eton between 14 Mile and Lincoln Avenue be designed with widened curbs for designated bike lanes in the public right-of-way on each side of the road, on- street parking on the west side of the road, pedestrian bump outs, and additional pedestrian safety signage,” he said. “There was also support from the MMTB to pursue enhancements from Villa to Maple to improve safety and connectivity at the intersection of S. Eton and Maple.”
Both of the recommendations for S. Eton between Lincoln to 14 Mile and Villa to Maple are contingent upon approval of a TAP grant or reallocation of the city’s budget and capital improvement fund, Cowan said. TAP grants are transportation allocation grants from the state of Michigan, a competitive grant program that uses federal transportation funds designated by congress for specific activities that enhance the intermodal transportation system and provide safe alternative transportation options.
A trial was run beginning in 2019 where parking on the west side of S. Eton, north of Lincoln, was removed and temporary road striping with bollards was placed as a trial along S. Eton in an effort to reduce crosswalk distance, provide a protected bike lane, and narrow the street to reduce vehicular speeds. In September 2021, Birmingham's traffic engineering consultant Fleis & Vandebrink (F&V)
provided an analysis of the S. Eton striping which includes before and after data for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists while comparing accident counts, traffic counts, and traffic speed. It indicated that crashes were reduced by 44 percent; vehicle/pedestrian crashes were eliminated; and bicycle volume more than doubled in the afternoon, and by 80 percent on Saturdays.
After studying various alternatives, the multimodal board recommended to the commission, and the city commission unanimously approved, to widen Eton between Lincoln and 14 Mile Road from 28-feet to 41-feet wide to accommodate designated bikes lanes, vehicular lanes, and on-street parking, which would be dependent upon receiving a TAP grant, as it is currently not within the city's budget. Commissioners unanimously approved staff applying for the grant.
Between Lincoln and Yosemite, commissioners approved rebuilding the street with existing 40-foot curb width, five-foot wide painted bike lanes on each side of the road, on-street parking along the east side only, and pedestrian bumpouts along the east side.
In addition, Cowan said, “City staff has held discussions with the owners of Big Rock about a potential 5-foot easement for the grassy downhill portion of the property north of the historic building. Renderings indicating the northbound bike lane merging into a 10-foot shared use path at the intersection of S. Eton and Maple is intended to guide users who wish to use the sidewalk under the railroad to connect to E. Maple and/or N. Eton. The owners of Big Rock were amenable to working with the city on a potential easement for a shared use path.”
“I don't think I've ever seen as detailed road design. It's amazing,” said commissioner Clinton Baller.
“One of the things I like about this plan is it's a narrowing and calming of the road. Hopefully it will slow it,” said mayor Therese Longe.