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Posted on Sun, May 19, 2013 : 5:55 a.m.

Ann Arbor's road planning helps bicyclists but ignores key road needs

By Stephen Lange Ranzini

Ann Arbor City Council is now considering the 2013 Non-motorized Transportation Plan Update Draft report. There is a lot of good work in the Report. As an avid bicyclist and bicycle commuter, I believe overall the plan is a positive for the city, and if implemented, will bring economic benefits and a higher quality of life to our fellow citizens, but there are some very serious flaws that require amendment prior to adoption.

The Report recommends additional bike lanes on Depot Street and Fuller Road, the major connector between the U-M Health System Complex and N. Main St. That’s good, but I believe the road needs widening to add additional lanes so that it is five lanes or a four lane boulevard to facilitate the traffic especially at rush hour during shift changes. At a minimum, turning lanes are needed to be added to facilitate traffic flowing from Depot turning right onto N. Main St. and from N. Main St. turning left onto Fuller. To pretend that this ought to remain a two lane road into the indefinite future is illogical.

The Report is silent on the major flaw of the N. Main St. and M-14 interchange, which should be made complete by adding an on ramp from W. Huron River Drive to M-14 West, and an off ramp from M-14 East to Huronview Boulevard, with a right turn at the end of that short street onto N. Main Street to facilitate southbound traffic headed into Ann Arbor. This would take traffic pressure off the unsafe Barton Road exit and off Barton Road, and take traffic pressure off Jackson Road and off N. Maple Road and Miller Avenue. If current USDOT rules don't allow it based on minimum spacing of exits on interstate highways, then assistance from our Congressional delegation should be sought to get a waiver from the Secretary of Transportation, who can waive the rules.

The Barton Road M-14 exit could be materially improved by reconfiguring it so the ramp exit off the freeway drops into a traffic circle. This would flow south via a straight road to connect with Barton Road similar to the current configuration, but improved from a safety perspective since the curve wouldn't be so sharp. Heading north from the circle and then east, a new road could be built through Onder Park to connect to Pontiac Trail and ultimately through to the end of Huron Parkway, as was originally envisioned when Huron Parkway was built. This would require voter approval, but would divert traffic from the overly congested Plymouth Road corridor giving additional alternatives to travel north out of town using either Pontiac Trail North or M-14/US-23 North without using Barton Road.

The report repeats the recommendation for a three-lane road diet on Jackson Road. This is extremely ill-considered because of the high peak rush hour traffic rates and faces substantial opposition among the citizenry. City council should repeal its resolution requesting MDOT to implement a road diet when the road is rebuilt in 2014.

The Report recommends a three-lane road diet for N. Main St. with a reversible, managed center lane. Besides being expensive in both upfront capital cost and ongoing maintenance, it is a bad idea for this high volume arterial roadway. The needs of the bicycling community to reach scenic West Huron River Drive can be better met by providing a safe connection to the Border to Border Trail that runs along the Huron River by providing access to cross the railroad at N. Main St. at Depot and again at the northern end of N. Main St. at M-14 back to West Huron River Drive from Bandemer Park on the north side of M-14.

Finally, a complete interchange needs to be added to the city's long-term capital plan between M-14 W/I-94 E and I-94 W/M-14 E. This would complete the freeway ring around Ann Arbor and lower the volume of traffic on city streets, in particular, the already over capacity Jackson/Maple/Stadium interchange. The rest of the 62-page document is well thought through and I urge city council to adopt it, once the amendments suggested above are made.

(Stephen Lange Ranzini is president of University Bank in Ann Arbor, where he lives. He's also an occasional columnist on AnnArbor.com.)

Comments

Merlin

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 2 p.m.

Stephen's observations about the North Main Street - M14 interchange are absolutely correct. This interchange needs to be reconfigured to include an exit ramp from eastbound M14 onto North Main Street, and an entrance ramp from North Main Street to westbound M14. This is clearly the best solution to handling commuter traffic from points west, and will solve the congestion issues plaguing the west side connectors (Miller, Dexter, and Jackson). Modifications to the North Main corridor that don't embrace this vision will ultimately need to be reversed, at substantial cost, once the reality sets in that updating the interchange really does need to occur. It seems like every week, there are accidents on M-14 in the vicinity of North Main and Barton Drive. I just read about another one this morning. I believe if annarbor.com were to obtain the accident statistics for this interchange, it would rank among the most dangerous in the state.

Jim Walker

Sat, May 25, 2013 : 2:56 p.m.

Unfortunately, the Federal Highway Administration will NOT allow partial redesigns of intersections like this one - you have to do total redesigns to current specifications which would cost more than the state and city can possibly afford to do. There are several very practical ways to re-design parts of the area for a lot more safety and better traffic flow, but these solutions will not get the approval of the FHWA. The FHWA wants perfection or garbage for the M-14/Barton area - nothing in between. James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association, Ann Arbor

ordmad

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 3:35 a.m.

Let me sum up: a bunch of ideas that have been discussed at City Hall for years without any attribution or acknowledgement of same, implying some sort of original thought. Shame.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 8:31 a.m.

@Ordmad: Contrary to your assertion, nowhere in the column do I assert that any of these suggestions are my ideas. None of these good ideas, if it is true they are being discussed in city hall as you assert, have made it past discussions into any actual written capital plans or transportation plans that are currently in effect or being drafted. Talk is cheap! They are not even on the list of funded projects or the wish list of unfunded projects in the WATS 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan, which lists $3.35 billion of funded and $3.35 billion of unfunded transportation projects in Washtenaw County between now and 2040. See: www.miwats.org/WATS/leftside/prgpln/LRP/2040/Plan.pdf. So, what kind of discussions are being held, "This would be a great project to implement in 2041?!"

P. J. Murphy

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 1:02 a.m.

With regard to 4 lane to 3 lane conversions, Mr. Ranzini and Mr. Walker are totally off the mark. First, these conversions are not done for bicyclists, but for motorists. Why? Because they make the roads safer. In many locations (in both Michigan and other states) this conversion has resulted in significantly less accidents, and less severe accidents. In some places the improvement has been dramatic, in others incremental, but overall the conversions have consistently yielded safer roadways. Second, 4 to 3 lane conversions make roads safer for pedestrians. This is particularly relevant in neighborhoods where 4 lane roads penetrate residential areas such as W. Huron. 4 lane roads can segment communities with vehicular barriers which are intimidating to the young and older segments of the population. Pedestrian amenities, such as designated crossing areas, really don't work very well on 4 lane roads. Third, those pesky cyclists also benefit. Numerically this is probably the smallest group, but it's also the one which is growing steadily. Being a relatively serious cyclist myself for quite awhile, I appreciate the consideration and safer road environment. However if cyclists were the only beneficiaries of this I'd not be in favor of it. On a cycle there are nearly always alternative routes that are quieter and safer than major thoroughfares. The question of delays is a valid one, but the studies I've seen pose that risk as one which is impacted by a variety road factors, and traffic volume is just one variable. One that becomes relevant only at certain times on certain days of the week. Naysayers predict doom and gloom but why not try it. The benefits are substantial, and the difficulty of changing back minimal. Finally, Ann Arbor has already several streets undergo this conversion and the results have been generally well accepted. Packard runs through my neighborhood, and was converted a few years ago. It's been a popular change.

Steve Bean

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 2:46 p.m.

The assertion that this will "only get worse" is specious. It's based on an assumption that car commuting will increase. There's no way of knowing that, but there is mounting evidence that workers are taking alternatives. Is the rate of change in commuting faster than the rate of change of commuting workers? We have data on bus ridership. Is there data on rush-hour traffic volumes that can be compared? We also know that increasing lanes induces car traffic (and bike lanes, bike traffic, by the way). There's much more to consider than static (current) traffic volumes. Personally, I think that volume will decrease over the coming years due to an extensive economic downturn followed by very limited fuel availability. Investing in the continuing transition to greater bicycle use and less car use is a wise use of limited funds. That's not meant to say that people should be forced out of their cars. It's just acknowledging what's happening in the world.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 2:46 p.m.

@P.J. Murphy: I actually asked the regional head of MDOT why they were willing to put a road diet on Jackson Road when the road is rebuilt in 2014 despite it being contra-indicated by MDOT's research and he said that they are willing to do it only because Ann Arbor's City Council requested it. MDOT has a policy of deferring to local desires as expressed by local units of government unless the request contravenes U.S. DOT requirements. In other words, if Ann Arbor City Government values having Jackson Road being walkable and bike-able more and doesn't care about the huge traffic jams the Road Diet will cause, it is Ann Arbor's problem and not MDOT's concern. They just build the roads the way local governments want them built, unless the request contravenes U.S. DOT rules.

John Q

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 2:12 p.m.

Mr. Ranzini apparently is unable to think between "black" and "white". If a road diet leads to increased commuting time, some commuters may choose to commute at off-peak hours. Or use transit. Or get on a bike. In Mr. Ranzini's world, all behavior is static and the only factor to consider is how long a commuter in a car has to travel from point A to point B. No other viewpoint is worth considering.

P. J. Murphy

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 1:52 p.m.

Mr. Ranzini, you site statistics and guidelines from MDOT, then fail to mention that MDOT has given a green light to the W. Huron conversion, as well as agreed to consider North Main. Apparently the contradiction here was inconvenient to your argument. Further, having done some reading on the matter you are aware that 4 to 3 conversions are motivated by a variety of valid community interests, but misrepresent the issue in your piece as a cyclist vs. motorist conflict. Evidently sophistry is a 2-way street. I can't promise that the W.Huron conversion won't increase motorist delays. It may, but at this point the truth is no one really knows how serious a problem this will be. On the other side are a variety of very tangible benefits in safety and quality of life in the community. The most rational course therefore is a trial. It just seems the most reasonable way to make an informed decision on the matter. If it turns out the hunches and "common sense" of opponents are correct, the status quo can be restored with a paintbrush.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 8:20 a.m.

@P.J. Murphy: Road Diets work fine for low volume roads but all the research and common sense indicates that they don't work for high volume roads when traffic is 15,000 cars per day, or a certain number of cars per hour which I forget (1,000 per hour?) and so Jackson Road and N. Main St. are totally unsuitable for a Road Diet. You wrote: "The question of delays is a valid one, but the studies I've seen pose that risk as one which is impacted by a variety road factors, and traffic volume is just one variable." Pure sophistry! Yes, it's one variable and it's the one variable that matters the *most* to drivers who use that road and to the area economy and the ability of the impacted employers to grow and to the quality of life for those commuting using that road. At peak traffic times it can already take up to 30 minutes to get from the U.S. 23/M-14 intersection to the U-M Health System and that will only get worse over time unless we improve the roadway between those points as I have suggested, but you advocate for the Road Diet which will degrade the maximum capacity of the roadway, making commute times at rush hour even longer. If you throttle our largest employer by doing that, what do you think will happen to its future growth? Are you anti-job growth?

EyeHeartA2

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 12:51 a.m.

Of course, these lanes would be little used from about October to April, but what the hey, we got money to burn!!!

EyeHeartA2

Thu, May 23, 2013 : 1:27 a.m.

I see, the door only swings one way. Nice. Last interweb refuge when cornered and caught with hand in cookie jar.

John Q

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 3 a.m.

Look up the census numbers. I'm not doing your homework for you.

EyeHeartA2

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 6:55 p.m.

Speaking of facts - where are yours? Oh, just another opinion. Thanks.

John Q

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 2:16 p.m.

Nevermind that cities that get more snow and cold weather than Ann Arbor still manage to have higher percentages of people commuting by bike. Don't let the facts get in the way of your opinion.

Peregrine

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 11:51 p.m.

Late in the posting, SLRanzini states: "The Report recommends a three-lane road diet for N. Main St. with a reversible, managed center lane. Besides being expensive in both upfront capital cost and ongoing maintenance...." Earlier he states: "The Report recommends additional bike lanes on Depot Street and Fuller Road, the major connector between the U-M Health System Complex and N. Main St. That's good, but I believe the road needs widening to add additional lanes so that it is five lanes or a four lane boulevard to facilitate the traffic especially at rush hour during shift changes. " Talk about expensive -- widening Depot / Fuller to five lanes would be hugely expensive. The Broadway bridge would have to be redone, utilities would have to be redone, there's a blind hill b/w the State intersection and the Gandy Dancer that creates problems, property would have purchased, eminent domain would have to be pursued. Since you've done your research, how much would all that cost? It's funny how expense only becomes an issue on a project you dislike.

Peregrine

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 3:06 p.m.

You were complaining about the expense of reconfiguring North Main St. I did not twist your words, I quoted you exactly. Again, since you present yourself as having done the research, how much would it cost to turn Depot St. + Fuller St. to five lanes? How much would it cost to redo the Broadway Bridge, which doesn't have space for five lanes?

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 8:08 a.m.

@Peregrine: What I actually wrote and what you assert I wrote are two completely different things. What I actually wrote about the N. Main St. Road Diet is "Besides being expensive in both upfront capital cost and ongoing maintenance, it is a bad idea..." When it comes to roads nothing is cheap and the key consideration is whether or not it is a good idea. At peak traffic times it can already take 30 minutes to get from the U.S. 23/M-14 intersection to the U-M Health System and that will only get worse over time unless we improve the roadway between those points as I have suggested, but you advocate for the Road Diet which will degrade the maximum capacity of the roadway, making commute times at rush hour even longer. If you throttle our largest employer by doing that, what do you think will happen to its future growth? Are you anti-job growth?

intellcity

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 9:47 p.m.

Following the road diet and the car vs. bicycle comments I find there are a lot of opinions, some animosity and a shortage of facts. Does anyone have access to vehicle flow and accident rates for before and after conversion from 4 car lanes to the rode diet formula (two lanes, center turn lane and two bicycle lanes). Are there fewer accidents? Does the travel time take longer? If so, how much longer (%)? Do more bicyclists use the road? Do more or fewer cars use the road? One problem with the 2+1+2 lane roads is that you cannot pass. If someone is going the posted speed then anyone behind has to do likewise. There is no opportunity to zigzag through traffic with your overpowered SUV to get three cars ahead by the next light. Fuel sippers and gas guzzlers are here at least equal. Another problem is when someone makes a right turn. Everyone behind has to hit the brakes. Could right turn lanes be added, at least for the busier intersections? If the 2+1+2 roads are safer could the speeds be raised so the commute is faster and the accident rate is back up to where it should be? A thought for those rushing to work car commuters: every time you pass a bicyclist, that is one car that is not in front of you impeding your progress. If getting to work fast is your goal then getting everyone else off the road would be your logical plan, not griping that they do not deserve to be on the road because they don't pay taxes. Also, and without facts, I suspect that those most likely to stop driving and use a bicycle are the ones that are slowing you down the most.

P. J. Murphy

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 1:16 a.m.

You know I think you mention what for some drivers is their biggest gripe about the conversion, namely that they can't pass the guy whose only driving the speed limit. I think this superior breed of drivers are frequently vexed that they cannot utilize their extraordinary expertise to weave through traffic and trim a minute or two off their trip.

Phillip Farber

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 10:16 p.m.

"Another problem is when someone makes a right turn. Everyone behind has to hit the brakes." Not a problem unless you're following right on the bumper of the car in front of you and certainly not the end of the world.

Linda Peck

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 7:59 p.m.

This morning traveling in my car down the newly repaved Dexter Road with the bike lane, I see 3 bicyclists having a lovely conversation, and endangering lives by not riding single file. I think the far outside man who was riding on the lane marker between car road and bike road felt he was doing a good job of following the rules. To me, it was rude and inconsiderate of other people. I can see this attitude multiplying and our road safety decreasing. Already, there are many bicyclists who are feeling very confident riding 2 and 3 and more abreast, and I think they are trying to prove a point. Am I seeing liberals living on the edge. Maybe it gives some kind of thrill to do that and have the law on your side. Sort of like smoking marijuana on the street and not getting arrested, an in your face sort of thing.

KJMClark

Wed, May 22, 2013 : 2:40 a.m.

... And that it's perfectly legal to bike two abreast? It's illegal to bike more than two abreast: MCL 257.660b: "Two or more individuals operating bicycles upon a highway or street shall not ride more than 2 abreast except upon a path or portion of the highway or street set aside for the use of bicycles." Maybe you shouldn't get so upset about perfectly legal things?

John Q

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 2:17 p.m.

You do know that bicyclists have the right to ride in the road?

Rod Johnson

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 2:27 a.m.

Sorry, I guess I misunderstood. How many people died then?

Linda Peck

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 11:55 p.m.

I guess I am not an effective writer. I was not referring to my trip time. I was referring to safety and the potential hazard made by riding 2 plus abreast. No time was lost to this driver.

Rod Johnson

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 8:44 p.m.

How much time did it add to your trip? 20 seconds?

Vince Caruso

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 6:52 p.m.

Lets see. We have spent about 60 bigillion dollars on car and truck transportation and virtually nothing on alterative transportation. Where has this gotten us? Climate change is here, ask the Dexter community how it feels as this is predicted to happen much more for the region with tornado alley moving to the north thanks to climate change. Wide spread over weight sick people from driving everywhere. SUVs for dropping the darlings off at school and shopping, when not flipping over on the highway, using huge amounts of gas and putting out huge amounts of carbon unnecessarily. Just remember as you are cutting off that bicyclist on your next right turn - one less person to fight over for your precious parking spot, one fewer person to sit behind in the morning traffic jam, and most important one - the person doing the most to help you and your family stop weather change, not get sick and ask you to pay for it, and not fill up the hospital taken your precious bed in the overtaxed heart disease center. Cyclist are your friends not your enemy.

EyeHeartA2

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 12:49 a.m.

I was not aware that tornadoes are a new thing here. Thank you for sharing this wonderful tidbit with us. It only it were true.

Skyjockey43

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 12:47 a.m.

Always cracks me up what people use to justify their belief in anthropomorphic climate change. One tornado? The fact is that the last 12 months have seen the fewest tornadoes in the history. But please, by all means don't let facts get in the way of destroying the economy on the altar of junk science. http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2013/05/05/noaa-reports-tornado-activity-all-time-record-low

RUKiddingMe

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 5:51 p.m.

I have been unable to find out how much the bike "fixit" stations cost. Can anyone advise me on getting the cost specific to the purchase, installation, and maintenance of these new items? I'm just curious.

EyeHeartA2

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 5:36 p.m.

Please consider running for mayor.

DJBudSonic

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 5:10 p.m.

The Barton on and off-ramp is not unsafe, please give up on the idea of increasing traffic on Pontiac Trail, which is 25 mph residential street. Many Northsiders like to think of the Barton Ramp as a kind of litmus test for bad drivers - if you don't heed the sign and suggested exit speed, and run off into the rail, it is your own fault.

Rod Johnson

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 8:43 p.m.

I use the Barton exit every day, and I agree it's useful and not unsafe, but it also leads to a lot of congestion and, I assume, inconvenience for residents on Barton. It's definitely not an idea place to funnel the large amount of traffic it handles. Take a look at the map: there are only three exits (Barton, Plymouth and Geddes) to serve the whole of Ann Arbor north of the river, and Barton and Plymouth are miles apart. Trying to get to M-14 from North Campus around 5:00 on a weekday is a time-consuming, frustrating experience, usually involving a quarter-mile back up of cars inching their way around the curves and through the stop sign on Barton. If I lived on that stretch of Barton, I'd be tearing my hair out.

Frank Lee

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 3:25 p.m.

Thank you Stephen! You have many valid points that should be addressed, but unfortunately common sense is not so common anymore. Keep it simple. The roads cannot currently handle traffic volume, so there is no room for road diets. Road diets ultimately cater to a smaller number of individuals (bicyclists) than a larger number (motorists). That's just not logical. It's also not logical when people talk about housing as a remedy to transportation. We can write pages of road improvements we need, but they'll still say they can't even afford to maintain what it is we have now. Hopefully this column will make them rethink the few projects that are already in the works.

Frank Lee

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 10:07 p.m.

@Steve Bean - If ignoring factual statistics is part of your logic, I have no argument.

Steve Bean

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.

"The roads cannot currently handle traffic volume, so there is no room for road diets. Road diets ultimately cater to a smaller number of individuals (bicyclists) than a larger number (motorists). That's just not logical." The first part's not logical, that the roads can't currently handle traffic volume. That's not illogical, it's just wrong. The roads handle the current traffic volume. Cars aren't being forced off the road, for example. On the other hand, when the reality that road diets are for everyone (as PJ pointed out) is considered, there's nothing illogical about it. It's a way to spend the minimal amount of money to improve safety, add bicycling capacity, and minimally reduce traffic flow at peak times and maintain or even improve it at others.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.

@John Q: The WATS 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan lists $3.35 billion of funded and $3.35 billion of unfunded transportation projects in Washtenaw County between now and 2040. See: www.miwats.org/WATS/leftside/prgpln/LRP/2040/Plan.pdf. Some of the road improvements I suggest benefit the area's largest employer (U-M and U-M Health System) and many of the estimated 79,000 daily commuters in and out of Ann Arbor. Many of the projects proposed in the WATS 2040 Long Range Plan encourage suburban sprawl and benefit many fewer daily commuters. It isn't a question of spending money or not spending money, but a question of priorities as to how the money coming in ought to be spent, or not. Again, of the 62 page report on non-motorized transportation, I have a quarrel with only 5 pages and am in complete agreement with the rest as money well spent.

John Q

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 2:09 p.m.

Yes, you are correct. Mr. Ranzini wants to waste millions of taxpayer dollars on road improvements that have minimal benefits a few hours of the day.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 7:06 p.m.

@Frank Lee: Yes.

Frank Lee

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 4:30 p.m.

@ Stephen Lange Ranzini – Wouldn't that mean I was correrct?

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 4:05 p.m.

@John Q is correct. According to the WATS 2040 Long Range transportation plan, many roads including N. Main Street are already beyond their capacity. There is a good detailed map in the report of all the roads that are above capacity in the county.

John Q

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 3:33 p.m.

"The roads cannot currently handle traffic volume, so there is no room for road diets." Nice claim but it's not based in fact. At worst, these roads are congested a few hours a day. You want us taxpayers to spend tens of millions of dollars to add capacity that will sit unused for 20 hours a day. No thanks.

Dirty Mouth

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 2:44 p.m.

Lovely term: Road Diets; images of Richard Simmons, Mayor John Hieftje, and the A2 Road Commission sweating to the oldies down on Main Street comes to mind. But, seriously folks, these so-called road diets are nothing more than lipstick on a pig and simply distract from the real traffic infrastructure issues at hand. For example, a few years ago, some wise old Dieter decided to add a left-turn lane at Packard and Hill Streets, forcing eastbound traffic to the right at the intersection in order to continue eastward. It didn't work, students ignored it, out-of-towners scratched their heads, and locals were frustrated. Furthermore, as an avid cyclist, I find it nearly suicidal to actually follow the freshly painted bike paths that seem to indiscriminately intersect major intersections and roadways; I know, as a driver that is paying attention, that all of this signage is at time overwhelming.

Rod Johnson

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 2:21 p.m.

If we need another freeway interchange on the north side--and we probably d0--a simpler and much less destructive place for it is where Nixon crosses M-14. Extending Huron Parkway is the kind of horrible idea that only makes sense to people who look at maps instead of experiencing the actual place.

Rod Johnson

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:39 a.m.

I'm not advocating for it--I'm saying IF there is deemed to be a need for an interchange on that side of town, Nixon makes more sense than Mr. Ranzini's proposal.

John Q

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 2:08 p.m.

Why are you advocating for an interchange at Nixon when it's not needed? Where's the case for it other than you don't want it where Ranzini proposes it? Also, Nixon is entirely residential north of Huron Parkway. Homes don't have to front on the road to be impacted by the traffic.

Rod Johnson

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 8:35 p.m.

As opposed to the people in the path of Mr. Ranzini's proposed Huron Parkway extension? Nixon is a largely non-residential street between M-14 and Traver, and with very few homes directly adjoining it until you get south of Bluett. As to the question of where traffic goes: north to Warren and Pontiac Trail, south to Dhu Varren, Green and Plymouth--all existing major roads. If the argument is that we don't need another interchange on the northeast side--that's a fair argument, but it applies to Mr. Ranzini's proposal too. Mr. Ranzini: "It would be nice but unfortunately current USDOT rules don't allow it based on minimum spacing of exits on interstate highways. To do it assistance from our Congressional delegation would have to be sought to get a waiver from the Secretary of Transportation, who is the only party who can waive the rules." This is the EXACT SAME claim you make with respect to your proposal. Are you suggesting there's a difference? As far as I can see, the only difference between my idea and Mr. Ranzini's is that his involves a lot of destructive repurposing of existing park and residential properties, and mine uses already existing roads.

John Q

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 3:32 p.m.

I'm sure the people living near NIxon would love to have their neighborhoods turned into a freeway off-ramp.

Arboriginal

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 3:17 p.m.

There is PLENTY of space at 14 & Nixon, but then where does the traffic go after that?

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 3:06 p.m.

@Rod Johnson: It would be nice but unfortunately current USDOT rules don't allow it based on minimum spacing of exits on interstate highways. To do it assistance from our Congressional delegation would have to be sought to get a waiver from the Secretary of Transportation, who is the only party who can waive the rules.

Jim Walker

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 2:20 p.m.

There are a great many long term residents who sincerely believe the Road Diet for Jackson Avenue will be a disaster. Time will tell, if this unwise plan is actually implemented, but it seems incomprehensible how putting in a massive choke point in the middle of one of our most important commuting and commercial corridors can possibly help anything. From the bikers point of view, what is the point of 0.6 miles of bike lane in the middle of a 1+ mile long segment, with no safe way on the road to enter or leave that discontinuous section? I will be one of the first to apologize if it does work, but it seems most unlikely. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, Ann Arbor

John Q

Mon, Jun 3, 2013 : 4:58 p.m.

"In some circumstances"??? Please tell us the circumstances where 4 lanes is safer than 3?

Jim Walker

Thu, May 23, 2013 : 12:49 p.m.

For John Q: Under some circumstances, a 3 lane (center turn) can be safer than a 4 lane -- that is known. But on Jackson Ave., the short 3 lane choke point between the Dexter split and Stadium is quite likely to cause total gridlock at rush hours. This will cause more diversion to Liberty, Dexter, and smaller neighborhood streets that are not designed for the extra volume. I have NO problem with bike lanes IN ADDITION to the necessary lanes to carry the volume of traffic for an Interstate Business Route or other major commuting artery. But we all know that Jackson Ave. cannot be widened to the ideal 5 lane + 2 bike lanes. The solution for .6 miles of bike lanes + the gridlock causing choke point with half the necessary lanes for the rush hour volumes seems VERY unwise to me, and to many others that have experience with A2 traffic for decades. (I came here in 1962.) If the goal is to drive more Interstate Business Route traffic to Liberty, Dexter, Miller, Pauline and even smaller neighborhood streets - then I think the plan will be a roaring success. I suspect the residents on those streets won't be quite so happy with the goal. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, Ann Arbor

John Q

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 2:59 a.m.

Jim's still obsessed with the bike lanes. Mr. National Motorists Association, are you able to acknowledge that a 3 lane cross-section is far safer than a 4 lane cross-section?

Jim Walker

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 7:51 p.m.

For Steve Bean: If I understand the project correctly, there will be a .6 mile segment of Jackson Ave. sort of in the middle of the section between Stadium and the Dexter Ave. split. It will go to 1 lane each way, a turn lane, and 2 bike lanes. At peak rush hour times the trafficon Jackson Ave. is WAY over the MDOT and USDOT recommended 1,000 vehicles per hour maximum to reduce the through lanes by half and many of us expect total gridlock at some of those times. I don't believe there are any plans to ever make the whole distance between Stadium and the Dexter split reduced to one lane each way plus a turn lane and bike lanes. The entire section will be resurfaced the same time and there is no possible way to widen the road to ever be two lanes each way plus a turn lane and bike lanes. The cost would be massively prohibitive So, we will have .6 miles of Jackson Ave. in the middle of this critical commuting and commercial Interstate business route corridor with bike lanes and no realistic possibility of those discontinuous bike lane sections to ever be connected to anything else. Liberty and Dexter are far more likely bike routes with more safety and much less disruption to the critical commuter and commercial traffic on BR-94. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, Ann Arbor

Steve Bean

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 3:07 p.m.

The point of adding this section of bike lanes is that it's the most efficient way of doing so. When adjacent sections of road are resurfaced or rebuilt, lanes will be added with minimal additional cost. If you have a suggestion for how to successfully implement bike lane infrastructure throughout the city in a more efficient manner, I'm sure that the city would appreciate your input.

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 7:42 p.m.

"From the bikers point of view, what is the point of 0.6 miles of bike lane in the middle of a 1+ mile long segment, with no safe way on the road to enter or leave that discontinuous section?" Enter or leave.. You mean like turning down a sidestreet or up a driveway? Or were you suggesting on and off ramps?

John Q

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 3:31 p.m.

That would be a first.

Scott Reed

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

More and wider roads leads to more car dependency and more traffic. A better solution is to shrink or eliminate roads and mandate mixed-use development to reduce average trip length from homes to common destinations like schools, work places, restaurants, etc.

Gerry

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 4:23 p.m.

Some road projects, like M14/Main and Fuller-Depot-Main, make a great deal of sense and will improve access to downtown. However, I take extreme issue with Linda Peck's comment. I am so sick of the government building roads that encourage surburban sprawl, and then having libertarians accuse me of "social engineering" or "waging war on the car" when I say that I want a more walkable, people-friendly style of development. Michigan has built itself on this suburban, highway oriented development, and it has been one factor in taking us to the hard place that we are in right now.

John Q

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 2:21 p.m.

Where's this mythical city where everyone can drive in their own lane and go as fast as they want and is a role model for all other cities? You have to love the so-called conservatives who demand that government build them their own personal super highway and then cry about liberal social engineering when it's decided that the super highway isn't needed and they'll just have to deal with it. You don't want to sit in traffic? Find a job near your home.

Linda Peck

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 8:04 p.m.

Right, let's remove all of our freedoms and let our government make all decisions about lifestyle for us.

Matt Lonnerstater

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 6:12 p.m.

Widening roads induces demand in the long-run. In the short-run, widened roads may speed up traffic. As more and more people change their routes or times of travel, however, congestion increases and we are left in the same situation.

SonnyDog09

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 4:23 p.m.

Shrinking or eliminating roads could also make people quit their job in a2 and take a job closer to where they live. I just love the smell of social engineering in the afternoon.

seldon

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 3:21 p.m.

Oh yeah, because making people move out of their houses is a better solution?

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 1:40 p.m.

The city plans to spend a tiny amount of money on improvements for cyclists who are routinely at risk of being run-down and killed... SRL counters that it is "flawed" and says it is instead essential to spend hundreds of millions on cars.

Steve Bean

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 1:11 p.m.

Money aside, motorists benefit from bicyclists having sufficient infrastructure. That some of them don't realize that supports Nicholas's point.

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 7:41 p.m.

Sorry about the SLR/SRL typo.

Frank Lee

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 3:38 p.m.

Nicholas Urfe – You have conveniently failed to mention gas taxes, vehicle registration fees, etc. These generate funds for road maintenance and improvement. These are not paid by bicyclists. If you want to simply stay on the topic of roads, motorists do have more entitlement.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 3:14 p.m.

@Nicholas Urfe: I take issue in my column only with a few elements on I think 5 pages of a 62 page report that I otherwise have high praise for. Interestingly, the official WATS 2040 Lomg Range Transportation plan lists $3.55 billion fully funded and $3.55 billion of unfunded wish list projects, but most of the projects are in my opinion less critical and of lower priority than the projects I've outlined in my column. Please note my initials are "SLR".

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 2:03 p.m.

The bicyclists already pay their share of taxes in the community. Just as the people who walk on sidewalks pay their share of taxes. You don't hear people yelling about pedestrians not paying for sidewalks. I don't have kids in the A2 schools, yet I don't constantly complain about my tax dollars going to the schools and their parents not paying their share. I don't use all of the dozens and dozens of Ann Arbor parks, but I don't complain about spending money on those I do not use. Etc. It is unfortunate that many car owners have a sense of entitlement where they seem to think they are more important than anyone not in a car.

SonnyDog09

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 1:57 p.m.

I don't mind spending "a tiny amount of money" for bicyclists. I do mind diverting tax dollars that were collected for improving the roads to pay for improvements for bicyclists. Tax the bicyclists to pay for improvements for bicyclists.

Barbara E. O'Donnell

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 1:02 p.m.

A beautful thing that bikers are safer on our busy roads -- Sidewalk (should be called bikewalks) safety is aBIG problem on Miller Ave. -- It's like a road kill trying to walk on the sidewalk, I've had many a near miss from being hit by a bicycle with a rider in dream land -- a bell or a holler would be a safe and polite thing to do. Thank you !

Lake Trout

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 4:38 p.m.

I agree with you Barbara. AA needs to decide if bicycles are vehicles or pedestrians and hold them to it, along with all of the idiot bicyclers who don't think they have to abide by ANY laws. I don't care if they are on the road, but I do care that they are not regulated, licensed, taxed and ticketed just like all other modes of transporation like motorcycles, cars and trucks.

Brad

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 12:22 p.m.

The "reversible road diet" idea on N. Main is insane. Which means it's probably inevitable.

Brad

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 1:54 p.m.

Oh yes it does ... in·sane /in?s?n/ Adjective 2.(of an action or quality) Characterized or caused by madness.

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 1:41 p.m.

The word insane does not mean what you think it does.

Sue

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 11:48 a.m.

Oh, Steven, thanks once again for putting many of my thoughts and concerns down on paper so eloquently. The sad question is, of course, will anyone really listen who is in power to DO anything about your well-stated issues? I certainly hope so. Thank you.

Chimay

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 12:16 p.m.

I agree. This is the most reasonable thing I've read about the roads, especially the road diets on Huron and Main. I had no idea about Fuller and Depot, which I use regularly. There is no room for bike lanes as they currently exist. There's barely room for cars!

Barzoom

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 11:27 a.m.

Ann Arbor has many advocates for non-motorized traffic, but none for the people who drive in this city.

Robert Granville

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 12:56 p.m.

Good. We don't need automobile advocates.... unless they're advocating that we use them less.

Peter Baker

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 5:13 p.m.

Oh please.

TinyArtist

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 11:26 a.m.

I agree with you that the so-called road diets are not suited to major roadways; I am not a fan of Ann Arbor's brand of roundabouts, which seem more like controlled trajectories than proper traffic circles; lastly, I think it is very cool that you live in a bank.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 12:37 p.m.

LOL, while my wife and children probably think I do live at the bank sometimes... :o) I actually live downtown! I suggested a different bio "slug" for AnnArbor.com to use at the end of my columns, but they wrote what you see. Perhaps I can convince them to change it.

Arboriginal

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 11:10 a.m.

Extend Huron Parkway? Good luck with that. Destroying wooded areas is such a popular idea in A2.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 3:08 p.m.

@Arboriginal: If you want that area to be pristine and undeveloped, you have a quarrel with the current city leadership who have an approved plan to build a 10-12 foot wide road for bicycles on the same path in the next few years. Do you see a disconnect between the idea that it is okay for a road for bicycles to pass through but not for a road for bicycles *and* cars to pass through? FYI, Ann Arbor has tons of coyote and deer. I've seen them and some lucky ones also saw a bear on the grounds of our bank building even in a "developed" area such as on Washtenaw Avenue in Ann Arbor Hills.

B2Pilot

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 12:59 p.m.

And there were a lot more deer trails, fox's, rabbits, turtles, and yes cows back then in those fields that are now paved subdivisions. And oh yes the large white barn next to us 23 with the Bolgos name on it! Can you imagine a dairy farm on Plymouth rd. now? it is what a 5 or 6 lane rd ? just sayin

B2Pilot

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 12:15 p.m.

extending Huron parkway has been done before. I'm old enough to remember when it was built and it pretty much ended at Plymouth road. I remember the Bolgos dairy farm on Plymouth rd. where the big boy and Hampton inn reside. And that was not that long ago believe it or not

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 11:50 a.m.

@Arboriginal: The city's plan is to build a modern, paved 10-12 foot wide bike path. What is there now is a dirt trail.

Arboriginal

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 11:37 a.m.

There already is a bike path. It is also a walking path, a coyote path, and a deer path. You might as well say the monorail is going to go through there, cause it ain't gonna happen.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 11:33 a.m.

@Arboriginal: Actually Ann Arbor inserted into the new WATS Long Range 2040 Transportation Plan building a bike path along exactly the same route. I just think it ought to facilitate cars, too!

BioWheels

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 10:59 a.m.

Steve Thanks for the article and the link to the Non-Motorized Plan. Do you happen to know when the Planning Commission, and the Non-Motorized planning group in particular, meets? I think this would be a very interesting meeting to attend.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 11:14 a.m.

@BioWheels: The Ann Arbor Planning Commision's home page is here: http://tinyurl.com/A2Planning That page has a link to their meeting schedule and also shows the membership of the committee and their agenda packages. As to the non-motorized committee, it is not listed as an official committee of the Planning Commission on the website, so suggest you email Wendy Rampson, the head of the department at wrampson@a2gov.org, to find out when they meet and if any of the meetings are open to the public.

1bit

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 10:45 a.m.

Stephen, these are good suggestions. I know you don't like the "road diets" but they have been successful elsewhere in A2 where implemented and not nearly the gloom and doom predicted. Ultimately these road diets are just paint on the road and can be reconfigured if unsuccessful. Ultimately, much of the traffic in A2 in the mornings/evenings stems from Ann Arbor's largest employer which attracts workers from surrounding regions. A sound traffic plan might include finding ways for these employees to reach their job easier than by car.

1bit

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 5:49 p.m.

@Brad: Data to actually support your opinion? I go on these roads that have been "dieted" and they are much better in my opinion (by car and bike). I thought the Green Rd one was going to be a disaster and I was wrong. The alternative is creating 5-lane concrete jungles that benefit mostly out-of-town commuters for a couple hours each day, cost more to maintain, and steal the front yards of the people who actually live on the street. @gary: Better utilization of existing roadways sounds like a plus, not a minus. As I mentioned, local traffic is not the problem. Out-of-town commuters are the underlying cause for most of the traffic issues.

gary

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 3:39 p.m.

It has also been successful in pushing traffic off the "dieted" roads and into the surrounding neighborhoods, as people find side street shortcuts to avoid congested main roads.

Brad

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 12:20 p.m.

Road diets have been "successful" at what? Reducing speeds and increasing travel time? If that's your goal then yes, they are a "success".

1bit

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 11:28 a.m.

@Stephen: I am aware of the guidelines, but you are painting the road diets as something being done for bicyclists when they are actually helpful to motorists as well. A bicyclist on the road effectively consumes a lane in that section. A left-turning car effectively consumes 1 1/2 lanes (by stopping all traffic in one lane and then slowing the other lane by all the cars having to merge over). The traffic in the section on N. Main is not spread out evenly over the entire day but rather comes in spurts in the mornings and evenings. This has more to do with the freeways and off/on ramps than the actual configuration of the road (as you alluded to in your column).

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 11:19 a.m.

@1bit: MDOT's guidelines do not recommend road diets of roads with more than 15,000 cars per day. Jackson Road and N. Main St. both have more than that and volumes are expected to grow in the future. Future "Common Cents" columns (submitted for publication and hopefully running soon) also address ideas and observations I have regarding commuter rail and "higher speed" rail and the Fuller Road train station proposal.