Lane Reduction Project on Hamilton, Huron, and Washtenaw (M-17)
In mid-2011, as a result of speed limit increases on Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) trunklines through the City enacted by the Michigan State Police (MSP), Council and Planning Commission directed staff to investigate potential options to increase safety on those roadways. In Michigan, speed limits on trunklines may only be set by the MSP following a speed study, and must be set at the 80th percentile speed. Thus, to decrease speed limits, the actual travel speed must be lowered. To lower the actual travel speed, the design of the road would need to change. Staff worked with MDOT and WATS to propose several lane-reduction scenarios, as the travel speed on these streets is correlated with the amount of “open space” available to drivers, and travel speed through dense residential/commercial areas is directly related to safety.
In 2014, design checklists were provided by MDOT, preliminary studies were completed and tweaked, and next steps were discussed. In March of 2015, Council held two public hearings at which they expressed unanimous support of the project (full presentations and packet available here: http://cityofypsilanti.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/515?fileID=764. WATS’ presentation of a nonmotorized crossing over I-94 begins on page 31; staff’s of the road diet on page 45). In mid-2015, however, the project stalled.
In February of 2018, Council reaffirmed their support of the project, and approved release of an RFP for a traffic study, the next step in the road diet checklist provided by MDOT. Work began in late 2018 with Hubbell, Roth, and Clark, including collecting new vehicle counts. A draft was submitted to MDOT for their comments, which were received and incorporated into the study.
Also in 2018, MDOT performed a road safety audit (RSA) in the same area: M-17 between Summit and I-94 (Washtenaw, Summit to Hamilton; Hamilton, Washtenaw to I-94; Huron, I-94 to Cross; West Cross, Huron to Washtenaw). That audit suggested several changes to the roadway, and is available here.
Feasibility Study Results
The 2019 proposal was essentially to remove a lane on each of the three-lane portions of Hamilton, Huron, and Washtenaw within the project bounds, which at the time excluded the Cross/Huron intersection and the Washtenaw/Hamilton intersection. On Hamilton and Huron, those lanes would be replaced with a buffered bike lane; on Washtenaw, with parking. There are exceptions at certain intersections and in certain areas in order to maintain an acceptable level of service (LOS), to handle turning traffic, and/or due to space constraints. The full report is available here. The project was found to be feasible, and supported the Road Safety Audit's findings that such a project would improve safety.
An open house was held on December 19th, 2019, to gather public feedback; the staff presentation is available here and a livestream of the event by Mayor Bashert can be found here. Public feedback at the time was supportive but also expressed a desire to see changes at the intersections of Hamilton/Washtenaw and Huron/Cross to improve safety of drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians. City Council echoed that feedback in their resolutions supporting the project in January 2020 and March 2021.
As a result of that public feedback, MDOT expanded the scope of the project to consider changes at the Washtenaw/Hamilton intersection and the Cross/Huron intersection, which in turn also enabled additional safety-related changes to be made to the bike lane extent. These proposed changes will be presented to the public at an Open House to be held at the Ypsilanti Freighthouse on Wednesday, August 11th at 4pm. Presentations will be given at 4:30pm and 6:00pm.
Additional feedback may be submitted to Bonnie Wessler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If Council wishes to move forward with the project, staff would then work with MDOT on final approvals, geometric design, other items, and scheduling. If all goes smoothly and positively with this project, and MDOT’s current Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) stays on schedule, the lane reduction could be implemented in 2022 or 2023 in conjunction with MDOT’s scheduled maintenance project, which is currently planned to follow YCUA's proposed water main and service line repairs/replacements.