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Posted on Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Could a 2-lane roundabout be in Ypsilanti's future?

By Katrease Stafford


Planning consultant Ian Lockwood drew an illustration showing the possible roundabout on Huron Street and Hamilton Street in Ypsilanti.

Courtesy photo

A roundabout connecting Huron Street and Hamilton Street just north of I-94 in Ypsilanti would make the city more pedestrian friendly and create safer streets, according to Planning Consultant Ian Lockwood, who also believes converting to two-way streets could have an economic impact.

"We’re thinking the entrance feature into town probably (should) be a roundabout," Lockwood said Wednesday at a joint Ypsilanti City Council and Planning Commission meeting. "What we would like to see is a transition from highway behavior."

Lockwood, a principal transportation engineer with AECOM Inc., is working alongside ENP & Associates to update the city's master plan. Converting Huron Street and Hamilton Street into two-way streets and connecting them to a roundabout near the Interstate 94 ramps have been part of the various master plan discussions, but now consultants are seriously looking at the steps it would take to make it a reality.

Lockwood said a roundabout would eliminate the "high speed environment" in that area since most roundabouts have speed limits of around 15 to 20 mph.

Lockwood envisions a two-lane roundabout, with a "green space" in the middle and a sign welcoming drivers to Ypsilanti. This would signal to drivers that it's "time to behave" on the road since they're driving within the city and no longer on the interstate.

"We're striving to make a connection for pedestrians," he said. "When you come off the highway, that street needs to turn into something community friendly."

Lockwood said other communities across the nation, citing San Diego and Clearwater, Fla., have benefitted economically from roundabouts.

"Businesses came in and social activity started again," he said.

Eliminating the city's one-way streets would also further the local economy, according to Lockwood, who believes the current set up deters potential customers from stopping at local businesses.


Ian Lockwood

Katrease Stafford |

Lockwood said there's a misconception that the majority of traffic traveling around the area is through traffic, reinforcing his idea that the conversion would help the city.

"I would bet the majority of people coming in are local trips," he said. "I think that gives you standing to make that we want these to be trips that suit the city and we want to be rewarding long trips through the city. Being two streets really helps the businesses."

Lockwood said the conversion could also affect Eastern Michigan University and its traffic.

"What we’re looking for is slower, steadier and more sober trip past the school," he said. "I don’t think anyone would suggest such a high speed route between where students live... We want to get folks driving through there respectfully. Two-way streets would kind of restore that university-city interface and create a more permeable connection."

The street conversion would narrow the streets, Lockwood said, enabling the city to pursue creating more on-street parking potentially right along the northside near EMU's campus.

"You could put 80 in front of the university and 50 across from the university," he said. "That gives us some pretty sizeable parking supply in the area."

Lockwood said he has met with representatives from the Michigan Department of Transportation, who are "open" to the idea.

"They said if we do the homework, they would be open to it," he said. "... We're optimistic about that change."

Former Mayor Cheryl Farmer said she thinks the roundabout could also potentially connect parts of the city that were previously isolated, citing the $16 million Hamilton Crossing redevelopment. Farmer also said the city should look at how the roundabout could also tie in the Monroe-Madison neighborhood area to the west.

"I can see where the roundabout will help draw Hamilton Crossing into the community," Farmer said. "What can we do to help that area of the community be more successful? It seems having a vision and setting rules can help the community be more successful."

City Manager Ralph Lange didn't say he was against the idea of creating a roundabout, but expressed concern for how the city would pay for it.

"I know that's a lot of money and where's that going to come from?" Lange said.

Katrease Stafford covers Ypsilanti for her at or 734-623-2548 and follow her on twitter.



Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 1:31 a.m.

What is so bad with stop lights?.. It allows people to walk across.. and god forbid people sit for 2 min To me, sitting at a light slows the traffic more than ripping thru a roundabout.. I'm sick of the rounds. The ones I have been thru around here are much to small in radius. How do trucks get thru a round about to get into town, that is not easy.If you have ever gone thru one with asemi, it's down right scary.

Scott Batson

Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 4:35 p.m.

Modern roundabouts are designed for trucks by including the center flat area around the circle. It's not a sidewalk, it's called a truck apron, and it's for trucks to begin a sharp right or end a left or U-turn on. Visit Or for examples. The FHWA has a video about modern roundabouts that is mostly accurate ( ).


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 8:48 p.m.

"Lockwood said a roundabout would eliminate the "high speed environment" in that area since most roundabouts have speed limits of around 15 to 20 mph" Well least they are honest, they want the hoops-hoops just to slow traffic down.

Scott Batson

Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 4:35 p.m.

Slow and go modern roundabout intersections means less delay than a stop light or stop sign, especially the other 20 hours a day people aren't driving to or from work. Average daily delay at a signal is around 12 seconds per car. At a modern roundabout average delay is less than five seconds. Signals take an hour of demand and restrict it to a half hour, at best only half the traffic gets to go at any one time. At a modern roundabout four drivers entering from four directions can all enter at the same time. Don't try that with a signalized intersection.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 8:21 p.m.

asinine. the road is fine the way it is; I live in downtown ypsi and use exit 183 to huron street all the time to get home when i'm using eastbound i-94. roundabouts are dangerous and confusing, and with the speed limit on that stretch of road being 40 mph (increased just last year) i don't see how a roundabout fits in with the flow of traffic. huron is a main road just like washtenaw, stadium, eisenhower, carpenter... all this project is going to do is create gridlock in this area and inconvenience people living nearby.

Patrick Maurer

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 5:53 p.m.

How about resurfacing the roads before creating these nightmares? The roads are crumbling and you are trying to put lipstick on a pig.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 5:37 p.m.

"I would bet the majority of people coming in are local trips," he said. Isn't this potentially in direct opposition to the other guys that say those Pure Michigan ads brought in a bunch of tourisits? Which one's right?

Martin Friedburg

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 4:17 p.m.

I agree with Plubius' raising of the eyebrows at : " I would bet the majority of people coming in are local trips." We're basing a project potentially costing millions of dollars o a "bet"? Please, let's work with hard data! Drivers can get accustomed to roundabouts easily enough, but what is the congestion problem at I-94 that a roundabout would purportedly solve? I use Exit 183 (Huron/Whittaker) frequently from both directions and have never had a problem getting through there. Is this a solution looking for a problem? Or is this roundabout a means to justify the end of reverting Huron and Hamilton back to two-way streets? The two-way issue, I think, should be approached with skepticism. Reverting to two-way streets would add congestion, not reduce it. As two-ways, pedestrians crossing those streets would now have to deal with traffic from two directions, not one. How is that safer? Would Cross Street become two-way in the vicinity of EMU? That seems more dangerous to both drivers and pedestrians crossing than dealing with a one-way street. Those who want stop in downtown Ypsi can already access Michigan Ave by turning either direction from Huron or Hamilton. So what's the gain by going to two-way streets? I think we need to look closely at the rationale for these proposals and ask if we're really solving problems here. Finally, I certainly agree with others about the need to improve the current poor conditions of many of our Ypsi-area streets!

Scott Batson

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 7:43 p.m.

One-way streets often move faster than two-way streets due to reduced friction, as it is called. One-way streets also usually increase circulating traffic. For pedestrian safety, the two primary factors are exposure and vehicle speed. On two-way streets it's much easier to construct refuge islands between opposing lanes that create two-phase crossing opportunities. These assist pedestrians in focusing on one direction of traffic at a time to cross, something safer for older and younger pedestrians. Multi-lane crossings also have the double-threat problem, where the first car stops but the second driver does not, even though it's the law, and hits the pedestrian.

Paul Schreiber

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 4:06 p.m. commenters and the general public are welcome to attend the Shape Ypsilanti Closing Conversation tonight, April 18, at 6 p.m. at SPARK East. More information at


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 5:34 p.m.

Oh, so THAT'S what SPARK does; we get to go to metings in their office space that we pay for. Excellent.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 2 p.m.

Oh..... and spending that money on reducing crime in that area might do more to entice new business and shoppers.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 1:57 p.m.

I like roundabouts. Keeps traffic moving. I would prefer to see them re-pave Prospect north of Michigan Ave first though. Can't believe how bad that road is. Looks like it was first paved when the troops were heading down to battle Robert E. Lee.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 1:20 p.m.

"I would bet the majority of people coming in are local trips," And I would hope that these dolts are fired and get replaced with a team that uses actual data.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 1:19 p.m.

Washtenaw, Huron, Cross, and Hamilton are currently treated like race tracks and are nervewracking trying to cross. It's the small scale version of having a highway cut through the downtown of a major city. It separates neighborhoods and businesses and makes life unpleasant for people living and working on those roads. Getting people through the city and to/from the highway as fast as possible should not trump making the city a nice place to live and work. Especially since there are no longer large manufacturing shifts that need to cycle through. Good to see planners setting the right priorities and coming up with solutions to address them. Not that I expect them to find the money to pull it off any time soon.

Depot Town

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 5:22 p.m.

You said it Mark!


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 1:09 p.m.

Well, that was fun. No let us get back to reality. City administrators: you have streets in your city that are impassable. For starters fix the streets you already have. Prospect Street from Michigan Ave north to Holmes Rd. N Adams from Michigan Ave to Pearl. North Huron from Forest to LeForge.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 5:33 p.m.

Ann Arbor is suffering from precisely the same problem. It is absolutely humiliating when we go downtown with visiting friends/family. They know what our property taxes are like, and when they see our roads they politely say nothing, but we all know what they're thinking. To be good hosts, we have to use our car to drive everywhere with visitors, because the roads would damage their cars. Absolutely enraging, and yet somehow everyone keeps their jobs.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 1:51 p.m.



Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 12:26 p.m.

Well, as a general fan of roundabouts, I have to voice my opinion that this seems like a terrible idea, and we clearly have no money to pay for it. Absolutely not a priority. The only problem that could actually be addressed by this idea is pedestrian safety, which anyone who has driven through here can attest is currently no good. But the only remedy we need for that is a sidewalk or non-motorized path crossing the highway. No need to re-engineer roadways that are working just fine. But this idea immediately lost all credibility as soon as I saw the image of the sketch that is attached to the article. The bridge is on huron/whitaker, not I-94. He drew it completely wrong. And if they don't even have that basic fact memorized by now, they should not even be thinking about completely changing the road structure. Pretty lame, Ian.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 1:52 p.m.

Ok fair enough. Still, whoever drew that original sketch was off-base.

Katrease Stafford

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 1:31 p.m.

Dlaute81, I did ask for a current photo of this possible roundabout and it was not immediately available, so I used this picture to give readers a general idea as to how it could possibly look and where it would be located. This photo and even the one used last night are sure to change, as I'm sure MDOT and others may have suggestions.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 1:18 p.m.

That picture was not presented last night. is recycling a photo taken in March during the first week the planning team was in town. The Bridge was correct and the roundabout was pushed a little more to the north, and was much more fleshed out in terms of pedestrian access and traffic flow.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 12:24 p.m.

The plague is spreading ...All of the so called visonaries who propose these things should have to spend 4 hours driving the joke @ US 23 and Lee rd before they sign the work order..


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 12:29 p.m.

Yeah. Even the Geddes road exit on north 23 can back up into the highway also. Roundabouts absolutely do not immediately alleviate traffic congestion, they have to be designed correctly. And sorry to say this, but maybe Michigan drivers are just not sophisticated enough to handle them. Nearly every time I drive across geddes road near 23 and hit the three roundabouts in a row, I count more than one driver who has no idea how to proceed through them. Stopping in the middle of a roundabout, failing to yield, being overly cautious and making everyone behind them stop for now reason, etc.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 11:52 a.m.

How about just fixing the streets? The Huron street section between Harriet/Factory and Michigan is atrocious!


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 12:21 p.m.

huh? I drive that stretch many times per week, and have no idea what you are talking about. It's pretty darn smooth. Plenty of streets around town that need attention before this one. Also, they are trying to reduce speeds... not raise them....

Jim Osborn

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 11:37 a.m.

I'm not opposed to roundabouts, but far too many drivers seem to have difficulty navigating them. This is a proposed 2-lane roundabout, most likely because a single lane one will not be sufficient. I have not seen a double lane roundabout work in Washtenaw County. There is one on Maple Road at M-14 where drivers have quickly turned it into a single lane roundabout, complete with wearing off the dividing lane lines. Since there is a high probability that this will happen elsewhere, including Hamilton where there is a strong need for 2 lanes due to high traffic. I suggest that Ypsi take a wait and see approach and watch the intersection at Ellsworth and State Street, which will be converted to a 2 lane roundabout and learn from that.. Will it work as 2 lanes or fail as a crowded single lane roundabout?


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 4:35 p.m.

The 2 lane roundabout in Ypsilanti Township (on Whittaker, south of Kroger) seems to work fine. There was confusion when it was first installed, but I havent' seen any issues with drivers having difficulty navigating a 2 lane roundabout.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 12:30 p.m.

Good idea Jim. I never understood why they attempted to put in 2 lanes in a roundabout with such a tiny radius anyway. There's not even the physical room for 2 cars to move through simultaneously without slowing to a 10 mph crawl. Maybe that was the idea, but none of us have the patience for that. Roundabouts in Europe are huuuuge in comparison, with plenty of space for everyone to jump in an negotiate their way through.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 11:09 a.m.

In addition to the roundabout, why not bring back the Grove Rd. ramps to alleviate some of the traffic at the Hamilton/Huron ramps.s


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 5:35 p.m.

what about re-connecting Ypsilanti (area) to itself then? Connect Harris Road to Mich ave from Ecorse. Give Ford Blvd exits onto Mich ave. I know some of these are township but so what - lets reconnect ypsilanti to itself and you relive traffic congestion in other areas


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 12:37 p.m.

Why not widen I-94 to 4 lanes each way between Grove and Huron, and perhaps lower the speed limit in that area?


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 12:28 p.m.

I agree on this one The Best Plan yet !!! Bring the other exit ramps back

Cory C

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 12:19 p.m.

I second this!

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 12:02 p.m.

@rtypsi: MDOT and US DOT's rules would prevent this because the exits would be too close together. Only the Secretary of Transportation can waive these rules.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 10:57 a.m.

Roundabouts still terrify too many drivers. They have distinct advantages in some situations but any city planning to construct a roundabout at its entrance point should remember that many drivers will still go out of their way to deliberately avoid negotiating a roundabout. I think eliminating the planned Marijuana Dispensary would be a better South Gateway to the city than a roundabout built on the side of a hill.

harry b

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 4:42 p.m.

Thats funny. I thought everyone wanted a drug house in their neighborhood.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 1:33 p.m.

Do you really want those who are mystified by roundabouts wandering your streets? What a wonderful idea: the roundabout as sieve.

dading dont delete me bro

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 10:43 a.m.

a round-about... the solution to ALL life's problems...traffic, parking, utility bills, hurricanes, water street...

Steven Taylor

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 6:11 p.m.

Well, if you look at in a 'round-about' way.. yeah...Sorry. I got nuffin'!


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 10:36 a.m.

So Lockwood works w/ AECOM and AECOM's working w/ ENP & Associates. Any other consulting firms? Are these 2 overlapping? Is this an annual or septannual thing where the city reassesses traffic design, or do we have these studies and planners (and consultants) at work all the time? Also, did this guy have a stroke while he was talking: "I think that gives you standing to make that we want these to be trips that suit the city and we want to be rewarding long trips through the city. Being two streets really helps the businesses."


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 5:30 p.m.

Thanks very much to the both of you; these were extraordinarily helpful answers, and I appreciate your time.

Katrease Stafford

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 1:27 p.m.

Thanks, dlaute. I also want to reiterate that this is part of the master plan process. The last master plan is from around 1998 and it is typical for municipalities to update the plan every so often to fit with the "current vision" of the city. In Ypsilanti's case, this plan is expected to last for the next 10 to 15 years.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 1:08 p.m.

The city is required by state law to update their master plan every five years per the Michigan planning and enabling act of 2008. The current master plan is from the late 90s. ENP and AECOM were part of the project team that bid on the project together, with ENP acting as the local prime consultant. The other project teams that submitted were multiple consultant teams as well. This approach is typical. I also believe that most of the consultants fee is funded through a grant.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 1:02 p.m.

There was some earlier context that wasn't provided. What I heard: "I think that (living in Ypsilanti) gives you standing to state that we want these ( trips into the city) to be trips that suit the city and we don't want to be rewarding long trips through the city. Two way streets really helps the businesses."


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 11:48 a.m.

Thanks for the response, Katrease. So is this a scheduled look at planning that happens once per year, or every 5 years, or is continuously ongoing? And it just seems unfortunate that a consultant hired for this has to call in another consultant who's an expert. Don't the consultants that are hired have experts? Are there other experts in other areas besides roundabouts that they also have to call in?

Katrease Stafford

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 11:06 a.m.

ENP & Associates is the overseeing consultant for the whole master plan revision update process. This is part of that process. The master plan will essentially map how the city looks, operates and feels for the next 15 years-- and is also used as a guiding principle for future development. They brought Lockwood in as an expert because he's had experience with converting streets from one-way to two-way and putting in roundabouts, in other states.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 10:28 a.m.

I had the privilege of meeting with the planners to discuss this and other suggested changes to the road network in Ypsilanti earlier in the week and was very impressed with their ideas and the rationale for why their recommendations would work. Moving to two way streets would improve the quality of life, increase property values and increase sales for businesses located throught the city. It's been proven to work in other cities across the U.S. As to how to pay for it, I suggest the plan be approved and the initial engineering done and then the city can wait for the next national recession and hopefully a "shovel ready" project like this can get stimulus money.

Jim Osborn

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 12:06 p.m.

I also suggest that they wait and see how the roundabout at State and Ellsworth turns out - will a 2-lane roundabout work in that location, or fail as the one at Maple and M-14 did, which was converted by confused drivers into a single lane roundabout. There is a difference, as Maple is a single lane that expands into a double lane roundabout, where State St and Hamilton are both already multi-lane streets.