MDOT plans July 10 open house to discuss conversion of Jackson Avenue from 4 to 3 lanes
And he's not expecting positive results.
"I don't see how it could possibly work at rush hour," said Walker, executive director of the National Motorists Association Foundation.
"It probably works about 20 hours a day when traffic is light," he said. "But in-bound in the morning and out-bound in the afternoon, I see it's likely to be a parking lot.
"And how much traffic — if they see it backed up — is going to divert to Dexter Avenue and Liberty, and maybe a bit to Miller and Pauline? How are those residents going to like it?"
Walker is planning to air those concerns July 10 when the Michigan Department of Transportation holds an open house to discuss upcoming improvements to the Interstate 94 Business Loop. That includes the Jackson Avenue lane reduction, a proposal that has sparked controversy among residents who fear it will cause traffic backups.
Ann Arbor officials say the idea behind the lane conversion is that wider lanes will improve safety conditions and decrease the number of accidents on Jackson Avenue.
The meeting takes place from 5-8 p.m. July 10 at Abbot Elementary School, 2670 Sequoia Parkway, in Ann Arbor.
MDOT and city officials will be available to answer questions about plans to convert a four-lane section of Jackson Avenue from Burwood Avenue to Revena Boulevard to one lane of traffic in each direction with a new center turn lane and potentially bicycle lanes.
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
MDOT plans to move forward with the reconstruction of Jackson Avenue and Huron Street between I-94 and Main Street in 2014. That is when the lane conversion, which the city requested, would happen.
The construction plans include resurfacing 2.4 miles of pavement, reconstructing ramps at the I-94 interchange, improving drainage and upgrading sidewalks and traffic signals.
The city has completed conversions from four to three lanes on a number of streets, including portions of South Main, Platt, Packard, Huron Parkway, West Stadium and Green.
City officials said it makes a lot of sense to do so when average daily traffic is less than 15,000 vehicles. Roadway segments with daily traffic between 15,000 and 20,000 vehicles also are good candidates, but those need more detailed traffic analyses, city officials said.
Homayoon Pirooz, head of the city's project management unit, said the portion of Jackson Avenue being evaluated has about 15,500 vehicles per day.
Even though there are more side swipe accidents along Huron Street between Jackson and First than there are on Jackson between Maple and Huron, Pirooz said only Jackson Avenue is being considered for a lane reduction because Huron Street has too much traffic.
"MDOT does not accept proposals for 4-3 lane conversions on corridors with traffic volumes exceeding 20,000 automobiles per day," he said.
The traffic volume on Huron Street east of Jackson Avenue is about 22,000 vehicles per day, which makes a lane conversion there a no go from the start, Pirooz said.
Council Member Jane Lumm, an Independent who represents the 2nd Ward, has opposed the lane conversion. She said she's disappointed the open house on July 10 won't include a formal presentation by MDOT followed by an interactive question-and-answer session.
MDOT spokeswoman Lynne Kirby said the open house format allows people an opportunity to ask questions and discuss the project with MDOT staff on a one-on-one basis. She said MDOT uses the format frequently and has found it to be successful.
"We will also have comment forms available for attendees to provide written comments about the project," she said.
Walker said he'd prefer to have a more formal opportunity to speak and have all of his concerns and other comments from the audience officially recorded.
"They're not doing that," he said. "In my mind, it's probably a way to bury the negative."
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