If you live, work, or drive through Grandmont Rosedale, you know that there’s a lot of construction happening on Grand River. Just what those changes are can get a bit confusing though, and even cause some concern. The Grand River Streetscape Project is quite an undertaking with many different changes coming to the commercial corridor, so we thought we’d explain some of the Whys and Hows and Whens of this project.
WHAT TRAFFIC CALMING MEANS
After several months of community meetings hosted by MDOT, GRDC, and the City of Detroit, Grandmont Rosedale residents and business owners made it clear that they wanted a slower, safer Grand River for pedestrians, bide riders, bus riders, and drivers. The urban planning phrase that is used to express this desire for slower, safer streets is “traffic calming.” Often when drivers exit the Southfield Freeway, they round the corner onto Grand River and continue at some pretty high speeds making driving, walking, biking and bus riding dangerous. High speed traffic also diminishes the possibility for our businesses to attract “foot traffic” patrons. It’s also near impossible to notice a new restaurant or a lovely gardening store when one is flying past at high speeds.
In order to “calm traffic,” changes are made to the street, crosswalks, bus stops, and sidewalks. As anyone who has seen the construction activity on Grand River can attest, this is quite a big project, and so to avoid more upheaval, the city deemed this a good time to also upgrade the water mains/sewer systems on both sides of Grand River.
THERE WILL BE NO MEDIANS ON GRAND RIVER
One way to slow traffic down is to have fewer driving lanes. The larger concrete islands near the curbs on both sides of Grand River (often called “bump outs”), are bus islands. These bus islands will make getting on and off the bus safer as the islands will make the bus riders more visible to drivers and the islands will also slow traffic as they will prevent drivers from passing in the right lanes, which is dangerous. These bus islands will also have improved signage, new bus shelters, and clearly distinguish bus stops from parking spots. The bus lanes and parking spots will be clearly marked.
Another aspect of Grand River that residents and business owners asked for was more pedestrian crosswalks to make crossing Grand River safer. There is quite a distance between the current crosswalks, and so many pedestrians cross in the middle of Grand River where there is no crosswalk, signage or any indication of any kind that drivers should watch for pedestrians. More crosswalks would also help increase foot traffic on both sides of Grand River – a feature that our many small businesses particularly want. To make these new mid-block pedestrian crosswalks safe, they need to be visible to drivers and so there will be small pedestrian islands in the middle of Grand River, sort of like a small refuge where pedestrians can safely stand while waiting to finish crossing Grand River, and there will be pedestrian crossing signage as well. One of the most frequent worries is that Grand River will have medians, forcing drivers to make a Michigan left. Medians WILL NOT be a feature of Grand River. Drivers will have two lanes going west, two lanes going east, and one lane in the middle for turning left.
There will be will be extra space or a buffer for people getting out of their cars when parked on Grand River. Many a driver has come dangerously close to tearing a door off a car or even hitting someone getting out of their car while parked on Grand River. This extra buffer space will make driving and parking safer.
A PROTECTED BIKE LANE
There will be one, two-way protected bike lane on the north side of Grand River only. After a great deal of research, it has been determined that the safest bike lanes are those that are between the curb and parked cars and/or bump outs. Getting bike riders off the sidewalks and onto the Grand River bike lane will make their travel much safer, sidewalk pedestrians safer, and may encourage others to bike instead of drive, especially if they are just going a mile or two. The idea is to make Grand River safer for drivers, bus riders, bikers and pedestrians.
The Grand River Streetscape Project runs from the M-39/Southfield Freeway Service Drive to Berg Road. The entire street will be resurfaced and the sidewalks will be repaired. The projected finish date for these changes, or phase one of the project from the Southfield Freeway to Evergreen is the end of November, 2019. Phase two, or the beautification of this area will include landscaping, benches, and trees will begin in the spring of 2020. The work on Grand River from Evergreen to Berg road will begin next year, 2020.
There will be better visibility for everyone – drivers, pedestrians, bike riders, and bus riders. Greater visibility and a safer Grand River makes for a more pleasant drive, walk, or ride. It will give drivers a better chance to see our many wonderful businesses, and to see how we care for and about our home.
All of these changes are the result of Grandmont Rosedale residents’ and business owners’ requests. There have been several public meetings for over a year to get feedback and to provide updates about the project. Project updates will be provided at the next meeting of the ongoing series of Open Community Office Hours sponsored by MDOT, the City of Detroit, Major Cement, and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation on Tuesday, Nov. 19 from 10:30 – 11:30 am at the GRDC Offices, 19800 Grand River. There will be a Community Meeting for a new project, the Grand Parklet to be located at Grand River and Puritan, on Tuesday, Dec. 3 from 6 – 7:30 pm at the GRDC Offices, 19800 Grand River. Come to the meeting with your questions, concerns, and input about the design options for the park.
The progress of the Grand River Streetscape Project is frequently updated on the city of Detroit website: detroitmi.gov/streetscapes