with poll: MDOT willing to consider reducing Ann Arbor's North Main Street from 4 to 3 lanes
In a recent Q&A with AnnArbor.com, Eli Cooper, Ann Arbor's transportation program manager, talked about the idea of reducing North Main Street from four to three lanes with added bike lanes.
Now an official from the Michigan Department of Transportation says the state would be willing to consider the idea if the city formally requests it.
MDOT is planning a major construction project along the North Main corridor — a US-23 business route — between Huron Street and M-14 in 2018.
Mark Sweeney, manager of MDOT's regional office in Brighton, said the city hasn't yet formally requested a lane reduction as part of the project, so the state isn't actively considering it.
Kyle Mattson | AnnArbor.com
Instead of a typical "road diet" where what's left is one lane in each direction and a center left-turn lane, Cooper said, the idea is to use that new center lane as a reversible managed lane.
So, in the morning peak periods there could be two lanes serving inbound traffic, and in the afternoon peak periods there could be two lanes in the outbound direction.
"And during the other periods, just have one lane in each direction with the space leftover being used for bicycle lanes," Cooper said.
"We don't know whether that's a feasible alternative from an engineering design standpoint, but I anticipate that MDOT or the city will take a closer look at that as they get closer to the project they have to reconstruct or rehabilitate that stretch of roadway."
MDOT already agreed to the city's request to convert a portion of Jackson Avenue from four to three lanes with added bicycle lanes when it does work along that corridor next year. The section being converted extends from east of Maple Road to Revena Boulevard.
Cooper said a managed or reversible lane approach is a treatment seen more commonly on bridges and also used for event traffic.
"The city uses a version of this technique along South Main on football Saturdays," he said, noting managed lane systems also are found around the Pontiac Silverdome and Palace of Auburn Hills.
Courtesy of City of Ann Arbor
But it's an idea that might merit consideration as the North Main corridor is limited in width and serves many purposes, Cooper said.
At this time, the scope of work MDOT is planning along North Main includes a two-course milling and resurfacing of the existing pavement, with full pavement reconstruction in the areas between Felch and Depot streets, and the two blocks north of Huron Street, which is an I-94 business loop.
Also included will be curb and gutter and drainage improvements, and a right turn lane at Depot Street, according to MDOT.
Sweeney noted this is only what is planned at this time, and the scope and schedule are subject to change due to funding availability.
According to MDOT records, the last time North Main was worked on was in 1997 and 2000, which is when the state did single-course milling and resurfacing projects.
The city's Capital Improvements Plan shows more than $4 million for sanitary sewer improvements along North Main in the next six years, $800,000 for water main upsizing, $165,000 for storm sewer outlet relocation, and $900,000 for improved non-motorized access to West Huron River Drive.
As the city moves forward with plans to transform its old maintenance yard at 721 N. Main into a greenway park with trails, Ann Arbor officials have been looking for ways to improve the North Main corridor for pedestrians and bicyclists and provide better connections between points east and west, possibly adding a pedestrian bridge over the road.