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Grand River Road Diet

Over the years, the City has received consistent feedback that improving walkability and parking capacity in downtown is a priority. The City is evaluating a road diet project for Grand River from Barnard Street to Chestnut to address these goals.  This page will be updated periodically with information as it becomes available.

 
Why a ‘road diet?’

  • Grand River Avenue is approximately 70 feet wide from curb to curb, which is an uncomfortable distance for most pedestrians to travel when crossing a street.
  • The current road configuration only allows for parallel parking. This limits the amount of on-street parking that is present, including in front of the Howell Carnegie Public Library, which is a heavy parking user. 
  • Many pedestrians already cross East Grand River Ave in front of the County Courthouse without the benefit of a crosswalk, due to the size of the block.

Where are we at in the process?
This is the very beginning of any potential project. The City authorized a traffic study to determine the initial feasibility of a road diet project. The next step is to formally engage the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) about the potential changes.  If MDOT does approve the report a public hearing will be scheduled to gain community input.  The City may attempt a demonstration project in the Summer of 2017 with temporary striping to see if the design performs as the modeling predicts.

What did the study find?
The study found a road diet implementation is possible without degrading current traffic levels of service in downtown. The study showed that a road diet project is feasible while maintaining current travel times through downtown. The study also showed that there were limits to the potential change, so the project cannot occur in the entire downtown.

What are the potential changes?
The study recommended the following potential changes to be presented to MDOT for discussion.

1) Extend the current three-lane configuration on East Grand River from Barnard Street to State Street and add angle parking. 
2) Grand River from State Street to Center Street will remain the same.
3) Implement three-lane configuration from Center to Chestnut Street with angle parking.

Project Scope
Will this road diet cause more back-ups in downtown?
The traffic analysis conducted by HRC shows that there will be no increase in traffic backups downtown.  Travel times through downtown will be equal to current the configuration.

Why back-in angle parking?
Grand River Avenue is a State of Michigan trunk line (BL 96) and the only type of parking allowed on these roads are parallel and back-in angle parking.  Back-in angle parking has a number of benefits as opposed to traditional front-in angle parking.

  • The parking movement is the same as the 1st step of parallel parking.
  • When exiting a vehicle, doors act as natural barriers directing passengers to the sidewalk.
  • When loading a vehicle's trunk you are doing it from the sidewalk vs. in the road.
  • While exiting a parking spot you are pulling forward and able to see on-coming traffic vs. backing into traffic.

Aren't there already backups in downtown, why won’t this cause a problem?
The proposed modifications do not change the current lane configurations at the Grand River/Michigan & Grand River/Walnut intersections providing for current level of service. The backups are due in large part to pedestrian traffic, not the lane configuration or width.

Reports & Analysis

April 24, 2017 Report to City Council
Full Traffic Study - Hubbell, Roth & Clark, Consulting Engineers
April 26, 2017 DDA/Main Street Presentation