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MDOT working with Woodward communities

By Lisa Brody

In late January, Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) met with a coalition of Woodward Avenue communities, including Birmingham, to begin working on how to shift the roadway to a multi-modal future.

According to a memo written by Birmingham Assistant City Manager Jana Ecker, “In 2022, the city commission completed a strategic planning process and identified its priorities for strategic goals as community and sustainability. The first strategic goal adopted was to create an engaged and connected community, and the first priority outlined was to work to bridge the divide that Woodward Avenue creates in the city, and transform the Woodward environment. The recommended action associated with this goal was to create a coalition with Woodward corridor communities, seek partnerships with community groups and elected officials, and advocate the Michigan Department of Transportation (“MDOT”) for a transformational road diet.”

Multi-modal transportation is a safety oriented mission to shift from a strictly automobile-centric focus to one that is inclusive of biking, walking and other transit forms, is equitable and inclusive, as well as works towards state carbon neutral goals. Local communities, such as Birmingham, Ferndale, Berkley and others have been seeking this effort for several years.

The communities involved in working with MDOT are Detroit, Highland Park, Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Huntington Woods, Royal Oak, Berkley, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills and Pontiac – the full stretch along Woodward Avenue. Ecker noted that “In furtherance of this strategic goal, I am pleased to advise that a coalition of community leaders from Detroit, Highland Park, Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Huntington Woods, Royal Oak, Berkley, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills and Pontiac has been established and meeting regularly to discuss our collective goals for the Woodward corridor. In addition, representatives from both SEMCOG and Oakland County have also attended to support the Woodward communities.”

On January 27, the coalition met with Interim Director of MDOT Brad Wieferich to share their concerns and collaborate with MDOT to implement both short term and long term changes to transform the corridor.

Among the points presented were that Woodward is a key corridor in metro Detroit, and it segments several historic downtowns, acting as “Main Street” in numerous communities.

For the coalition, there is a sense of urgency to not just plan changes to Woodward – but to implement them for the corridor as a whole. The coalition seeks to work together on a corridor plan, even though several communities have worked on plans independently.

Among key elements, “Woodward communities would like any plan to use best practices in multi-modal transportation and urban planning, and to consider a complete road diet analysis for the entire corridor understanding that Woodward is a main street, not a highway. Woodward communities request that MDOT shift transportation analysis away from current vehicle centric, vehicle level of service analysis to a comprehensive multi-modal analysis for Woodward Avenue and other road projects in urban areas, and consider sustainability and environmental goals in transportation planning (such as state carbon neutral goals).

Ecker reported the next meeting of the coalition is expected to be in early March.


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