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Posted on Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 10:55 a.m.

Planners present three visions for an improved Washtenaw Avenue corridor

By Tom Perkins

Elected and planning officials from municipalities along Washtenaw Avenue have increasingly touted the vision and benefits of the Reimagine Washtenaw project as plans take shape.

But what exactly would a “complete street” on Washtenaw Avenue that caters to public transit, pedestrians and bicyclists look like? And how does less traffic impact the street's physical complexion?

ReImagine Washtenaw's architects offered three scenarios for public discussion at a series of meetings last week, though they stressed the scenarios are only options for consideration and they are continuing to gather feedback.

But Neil Billetdeaux, a consultant with Smithgroup JJR, said the aim of each is to reduce traffic and increase use of other forms of transit.

“The goal is to provide options, more options than is available today so people can make that choice,” he said.

The three scenarios will be online Monday and residents can leave feedback on the website.

Each scenario offers a mix of different proposals, though each includes connecting sidewalks throughout the corridor, which runs from the Cross Street and Washtenaw split in the city of Ypsilanti to the Stadium and Washtenaw split in the city of Ann Arbor.

Planners also want to see bike lanes installed and bus ridership increased on the route that traverses Washtenaw, which is already the Ann Arbor Transit Authority's busiest.

Billetdeaux said the four municipalities—the City of Ann Arbor, Pittsfield Township, Ypsilanti Township and the City of Ypsilanti—working with urban design and transportation consultants have all committed to continuous, buffered bicycle lanes through individual non-motorized transportation plans.

“All the governments involved and stakeholders are aligned to what we feel needs to be done to improve the corridor,” Project Manager Nathan Voght said.

Parts of each scenario call for dedicated bus lanes, and the plans incorporate “transit signal priority” that would allow bus drivers to control when lights turn red or green. The faster service would in turn draw more people to public transportation, which is one of the project’s central goals, Billetdeaux said.


Officials are hoping to reduce traffic enough along a stretch of Washtenaw Avenue that it could implement a road diet to reduce it from five to three lanes.

Tom Perkins | For

Two of the scenarios also include road diets in the eastern part of the county, though Billetdeaux said such an idea is 20 to 30 years off and could only happen when traffic volume has been reduced.

“This is about a 20- to 30-year horizon on what Washtenaw wants to be, what the community wants it to be,” he said. “It represents a change in ridership, a change in transportation use in the corridor, and the three lane option under today’s conditions would fail, and no one is arguing that.”

Other ideas mixed into the scenarios include narrowing lane width; installing medians; adding mid-block crosswalks; adding landscape buffers and adding transit “super stops” that would attract more residents and offer better facilities for bus riders.

Ypsilanti City Planner Teresa Gillotti underscored that the focus at the moment is to gather feedback from residents on each of the ideas an plan’s components.

“We’re looking for feedback - nobody likes being on Washtenaw how it is now, so we want to hear if people want to have bike lanes, improved pedestrian crossings, where they want the crossings, bus pull offs so the traffic flow isn’t impeded. That’s what we want to hear from residents; what they like or don’t like,” she said.

Scenario A

Scenario A offers a cross-section that doesn’t look too much unlike Washtenaw Avenue today.

The five-lane road would include continuous, buffered bike lanes and sidewalks throughout the corridor. AATA buses would have transit signal priority and officials would better coordinate signals to improve flow.

The future public right-of-way would be expanded to 97-feet and still contain a dedicated center left turn lane. It also includes an eight-foot landscape buffer on each side of the road.

Scenario B

Scenario “B” would keep Washtenaw on the five-lane configuration on busier sections like between Stadium Boulevard and Platt Road. The corridor would narrow to four lanes between Platt and Carpenter, and include a median for part of that stretch.

East of Carpenter, the road would widen to five lanes until Torrey Street, where a road diet would take it down to three lanes until Cross Street. Parts of those stretches are where officials hope to see denser development that would include on-street parking.


Reimagine Washtenaw's designers hope the plan will improve pedestrian safety by adding more crosswalks, among other measures.

Tom Perkins | For

But Billetdeaux stressed the road diet would “not happen under current traffic conditions”, noting Washtenaw sees 26,000 to 45,000 cars travel each direction daily.

“It would be a horrible idea to go and do that today and create a deadlock,” he said. “The goal is not to slow down traffic so people take buses.”

Sarah Binkowski, a transportation engineer with Parsons Brinckerhoff, said the traffic count would need to be reduced by 15 percent, or 200 vehicles per hour, to make the scenario feasible. That would require an increase in bus ridership, bike traffic and foot traffic.

Gillotti pointed out the importance of gaining the support major local employers like Saint Joseph Hospital, the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University.

Planners are beginning to meet with those employers and discuss ideas such as changing shifts to begin and end at off-peak hours or offer incentives for employees who take public transit and other means to commute to work.

“We want to have less people driving through peak traffic hours for this to work,” she said. “So if we can get them to talk to their staff, students and faculty about the bus, car pooling, or biking, then that helps make this much more realistic."

Like scenario “A”, scenario “B” includes continuous, buffered bike lanes and would provide AATA buses transit signal priority. Additionally, bus queues along the corridor would allow buses stopped at lights to jump ahead of traffic.

Billetdeaux said he heard the most support for scenario “B” during the four meetings with the public, which he partially attributed to the different lane configurations matching the current or proposed land use in each section.

“I’d also like to think that people are realizing that we don’t have to design our roadways and corridors based on the automobile anymore and we have to consider the pedestrian environment and land use,” he said.

Scenario C

Scenario “C” would keep Washtenaw a four-lane road divided by a 45-foot median between Stadium and Carpenter, then shift to a three-lane road with two additional dedicated bus lanes. It would also include continuous sidewalks, continuous bike lanes, bus queues and transit signal priority.


A new non-motorized path under U.S. 23. Reimagine Washtenaw hopes to extend it the length of the corridor.

Tom Perkins | For

Parts of scenario “C” would require at least 131 feet of public right-of-way, which Voght said would require businesses to either sell or donate part of their property. But he said that would happen piecemeal throughout the next 20 to 30 years and underscored that Reimagine Washtenaw does not plan to go out and purchase large swaths of land in the coming months.

Larry Krieg, a member of the Ypsilanti Township Planning Commission who has been involved in the committee-level discussions, said he believes developers and investors see the value in projects like Reimagine Wahtenaw that enhance the community.

“Business people are making an investment when they bring in a business and they want to see that the community to is willing to invest in itself,” Krieg said. “In other words, we cannot expect businesses to invest in us if we, the residents, aren’t willing to invest in ourselves. It’s up to us to get the ball rolling.”

Land use is a crucial part of the plan. Planners want to see building standards and zoning that promotes development that it is closer to the street, denser and multi-storied. Those characteristics attract more foot and bike traffic and make it easier for people to access commercial space from public transit.

Kreig contended that its that type of development that will keep a younger generation that is less interested in the automobile in the area. That was one of the questions that sparked the Reimagine Washtenaw project, he said.

“How do we make our communities more attractive to talented, young people, many of whom are going to the east coast and west coast for a job and are really not interested in an environment totally dominated by automobiles?” he asked.

“Also, the way a lot of feel is that the corridor now - it’s ugly.”


Detached Observer

Mon, Jun 3, 2013 : 5:33 p.m.

As usual, the simple, obvious solution is not even being discussed: There should be a pedestrian bridge that crosses Washtenaw near Arborland Mall. Sure, bridges are expensive, but then so is repaving an entire street.


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 12:51 p.m.

Agreed. One between Whole Paycheck/Barnes & Noble complex and new big shopping plaza across from it would be helpful, too. Not just for pedestrians: people might want to visit both but not move their car. It's hard to see over the hill when crossing there.

Usual Suspect

Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 6:01 p.m.

The comments like, "Cities were built for people, not cars" are funny. The simple fact is If you restrict the cars, you will restrict business. Stores like those at Arborland and whatever the Whole Paycheck complex is called are not neighborhood stores. They draw customers from several miles away. Those customers are not going to ride their bikes, and only a small percentage of them live on bus routes that will take them directly to that area. People aren't going to use the hub-and-spoke bus system to travel orbitally about town, because in many cases you have to go downtown first to do that.


Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 4:38 p.m.

PART 2 Closer to home we get a bunch of busy bodies telling traffic engineers that safe, efficient vehicle movements are no longer the priority for Washtenaw county roads. They dutifully shop for "yes men" engineers who happy to tell them what ever they want to hear in exchange for paying his next invoice. They drop in impossible caveats like they're footnotes. "We need to see a 15% drop in vehicle traffic for this one to work" Oh really? So tell the busy bodies, Neal, about some examples of such a vehicle count drop you've experienced in other cities in the last 5 years and what their transit and business profile looked like? ...exclude dying communities please. Anyone with a brain should have screamed laughter at such an absurd statement. The reason this Road Commission needs to be replaced is that their priority is "feeling good". This bunch has replaced respect for the solid engineering that built our road system with their FEELINGS and YOU will pay the price for what follows. You will pay for their personal "learning curves" with grid locked traffic and millions of wasted tax dollars …and a hand full of happy neighborhood bikers ringing their little bells as they rid by the grid locked summer traffic. A decade from now, where do you think these "commissioners" will when it's time to admit their vast ignorance and apologize to every taxpayer in Washtenaw County for this disaster?

Basic Bob

Mon, Jun 3, 2013 : 11:05 a.m.

I fail to see how the road commission is responsible for presenting development scenarios that are not feasible. This initiative is nothing but a tax diversion mechanism for the cities and townships. They bring in their consultants - urban planning consultants, not traffic engineers - to give us storybook vignettes on how their "street" might look in cross section in the far off future. This major route is under the control of MDOT, but rarely do you see that the townships are attempting to work with their engineers. Because this is not a traffic problem, it is a tax manipulation scheme to siphon money away from the general fund and into an Authority appointed by politicians and unaccountable to the public.


Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 4:24 p.m.

What happens in 2013 when politics overrides infrastructure science/engineering? On a grand scale, we get Al Gore's massive profits from his great global warming fraud. We get CO2 hysteria and the absurdity of human controlled global weather with consumer choices – the energy use to heat our homes or fuel our cars. We get the discombobulated, dizzy nonsense of food grown to make fuels: E85 ethanol, the Navy's $26 per gallon bio fuel and the Air Force working on their $59 version. We get the absurdity of power and fresh water used to recycle paper, glass and plastic, then often sent to land fills for disposal in nice neat bails because nobody wants to buy them (there are markets for many metals). We get electric cars, wind and solar power constructed as monuments to the corruption of obama crony capitalism, repaying "friends" who pump millions into his campaigns. Closer to home, we start with AA Council telling walkers that unlike everywhere else in Michigan, they can feel safe running out in front of 4000 lb vehicles going 40mph because they wrote an ordinance saying so. The good news is that if they ever wake up, they can feel better that the truck that hit them will be sighted for an ordinance violation.

joe golder

Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 12:54 p.m.

Traffic will have to be reduced by 15-20% before a road diet will work! Good luck! Um football, Art fair, EMU commuter college. I love the way they have over built over burdening the corrider and now say its a mess and we need to get everybody to walk, bike or bus to make it work! I know first hand how these folks operate! They screw it up and waste money to fix their mistakes! I hope any property taken this time will be done legally!


Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 11:50 a.m.

I rarely see bikes or people on the widened paths on Washtenaw by 23. Nor did I see them being plowed. Or the paths on Geddes by 23 going to Dixboro Road. Unplowed all winter.


Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 11:38 a.m.

Cities are made for people...not cars... If driving is so important... there are hundreds of crappy cities with 8-12 lane highways running through them you can utilize. Adding Lanes encourages more driving and doesn't do anything to alleviate traffic. Narrowing the roads and closing the lanes.... all the while forcing business to come to the sidewalk... with residential and office above ..... People live in Ypsi and commute to A2 because it's cheaper to live in Ypsi and Washtenaw Ave encourages the use of your automobile... If you could live along that corridor above some decent retail and along the narrower slower moving traffic of Washtenaw Ave... (not off of the street, but Along Washtenaw..) you would eagerly hop on some form of public transit or bike to get to downtown or to St Joes or wherever... Making drivers feel king of the road by expanding lanes and subsidizing roads encourages driving and people will live further from where they work.... Good planning is something you see in Alexandria VA, Georgetown D.C, parts of Boston... and they're all expensive why? People want to live in walkable density.. and not commute an hour each way... Solution - 2-4 story mixed use planning along a narrow Washtenaw Ave with buildings close to the street... It's what the most desirable neighborhoods in the world have......lets not reinvent the wheel..


Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 12:19 p.m.

While I agree with your point about traffic, the desired mixed-use district is very difficult to achieve from a development and retail perspective. The world's most desirable neighborhoods were built smartly from the onset and didn't need to be converted from a strip-mall inferno. I can really only think of a few US cases where Washtenaw-like streets were converted into something mildly liveable, e.g. Tyson's Corner and White Flint in Washington D.C. It took a LOT of coordinated effort.


Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 11:16 a.m.

I don't think the planners understand the issues with this corridor. One the one hand, it's a terribly overcrowded arterial running between two centres that are highly interdependent. I can see how promoting non-car traffic could try and alleviate some of this overcrowding, as building more lanes / ramps / roundabouts etc has been proven time and time again to just increase traffic. The zero-sum mentality however is a bit odd, and the idea that business owners will donate their parking lots to expand the street width is ludicrous, especially the 'piece-meal' aspect. Either the full road is widened, or not. My biggest issue with this presentation is that planners mistakenly portray Washtenaw as potentially becoming walkable. Anyone with a background in architecture and/or retail (I count myself as one) will be able to tell you that just isn't possible with current planning powers. Existing businesses have adorned their premises to cater to passing cars at 30-40mph. Walking past these fast-food parlors, strip malls, bowling alleys and big box stores is terrible at a 3pmh pedestrian pace. No sane person walks on Washtenaw as a result. As a result, no retailer in their right mind will be the first to build a walkable shop, with parking in the back. It's the old chicken-and-egg story that has destroyed so many American Main Streets. Like with the road-widening story: piece-meal isn't going to cut it. Either convert this corridor all at once (how?), or stop fooling the general public with cute pictures of tiny Main Street stores.


Mon, Jun 3, 2013 : 8:50 a.m.

I walk a lot, every day. I walk past nice small homes, shops, restaurants, in other words buildings that address me and that I need to walk into to meet people, buy things and do my job. If I find my walk is too long or too dull (for example along Washtenaw) I could decide to bike. If that is too long, too dull or too dangerous (again, for example along Washtenaw), I could decide to drive or take a bus. The decision to walk is utimately one of background (e.g. do I have a car?) needs (is what I need to walk to close by?) and the walk itself (is my walk interesting, safe, comfortable etcetera?). These mechanisms aren't new or a figment of my imagination, they are scientifically proven by the same field of work that produced this rather curious report. If you are interested in more background information on walking (and you are prepared to spend an hour or so), read the Pedestrian Quality Needs report on The findings of this report are a result of many European and non-European traffic engineers on what makes people walk somewhere. From what I read in this news article, the drafters of this report may want to read this report as well.

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 4:55 p.m.

You say washtenaw is not walkable. How many miles do you walk a day, anywhere? Those who do can. Those who can't tell those who do that it's impossible.


Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 4:13 a.m.

They should be talking about adding lanes to Washtenaw to alleviate traffic, not narrowing lanes and eliminating automobile lanes. Bike lanes, bus lanes, etc are all pie in the sky wishes. People aren't going to stop driving down Washtenaw because of bike lanes and bus stops. This talk about 'Road Diets' is idiocy. There is no reason to walk along Washtenaw, especially through the Ypsi Township areas. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. These people must be stopped!


Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 1:46 a.m.

Perhaps cars are the problem, not the solution?

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 1:05 a.m.

Cities were built for people, not cars. Ann Arbor and the university existed for many years before the automobile. The roads here? Many were built for horses and bicycles. Driving a car does not make you more important than a pedestrian or a cyclist.

Usual Suspect

Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 5:54 p.m.

Ann Arbor and the university existed many years before you, too, so therefore....

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 4:52 p.m.

@tommyj: if by "priority" you mean "an inflated attitude of entitlement", than I agree.

John of Saline

Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 6:05 a.m.

The area under discussion was rural in the 19th century. By the time it was being developed, cars were commonplace.


Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 4:15 a.m.

It may not make you more important, but 3000 lbs of steel makes you a priority. This isn't New York City, it's the midwest. We drive around here.


Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 12:03 a.m.

I would like to see these alternatives discussed in term of transit time. If it now takes xx minutes to drive from Main St to Cross St, how many minutes do they anticipate it would take with each of these alternatives? Same arithmetic for bus commutes. With that kind of analysis (for various growth scenarios) I'd be in a better position to have an opinion.

Usual Suspect

Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 11:59 p.m.

It would all be fixed with traffic circles at Huron Parkway, Arborland, US-23, Carpenter and Golfside.


Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 9:44 p.m.

How about working with what we have currently. In my opinion, the traffic lights are timed incredibly poorly. 80% of the traffic is on Washtenaw from 3:30 to 5:30pm. How about adding 1 minute in length to the straight out of town lanes, and quit with the cute, equally timed "first you go left, now its your turn, and now you, and yes you can go now." As in, Huron Pkwy and Washtenaw. Ann Arbor traffic Engineers seem to live in this idealistic bubble that only with something new and different can problems be solved. I'd appreciate trying to focus on a zero cost solution first, with some out of the box thinking for the traffic signals. When traffic is stopped from US 23 to the stop light at Stadium / Washtenaw, but intersevcting roads are only backed up 40 yards, then someone in Engineering is asleep at the wheel. I'm guessing they are dreaming of more and larger bridges now that Stadium is done. The ultimate traffic calming tool.


Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 1:43 a.m.

discredited due to: bubble-babble


Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 7:15 p.m.

At the risk of sounding like a hippy, what ever happened to organic development? Why must everything be master planned?


Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 6:45 a.m.

Um, did the current version of Washtenaw Avenue plan itself?

John of Saline

Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 6:03 a.m.

In Soviet Ann Arbor, city plans you!


Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 4:16 a.m.

This is Ann Arbor. Soviet Central Planning rules.


Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 8:40 p.m.

Organic is the polluted mess we have now.

G. Orwell

Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 5:51 p.m.

Let's not forget, Al Gore, working for big business, got NAFTA passed by fooling the democrats and labor into believing NAFTA would be somehow be good for America and the working class. Now, all this road diet nonsense is also do to Al Gore's lies about man made global warming. While he benefits financially by collecting carbon taxes and through sxhemes like carbon trading. I cannot believe he gets away with fooling his base so often. I bet he can sell his followers the new bridge on Stadium Blvd.

G. Orwell

Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 8:27 p.m.

@Gill It started with Mexico then moved to China when China offered slave labor. For example, Foxconn has to put up suicide nets to prevent their workers from jumping out of the factory windows to commit suicide. Foxconn is a major supplier to Apple and Al Gore sits on Apple board. My point is that Democrats talk tough but stab their constituants in the back. All these "free trade" agreements are not free. They greatly benefit our trading partners


Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 8:12 p.m.

I think the major trade imbalance is with China, not Canada and Mexico. I'm always shocked when I see Fox [Faux] news watchers actually understanding how to use a computer...

Dog Guy

Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 5:41 p.m.

"The goal is not to slow down traffic so people take buses." according to Billetdeaux, who apparently didn't get the memo including buses with bicycles. Maybe he is just sending us billet-doux.


Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 5:37 p.m.

Well the weather is crap here about two thirds of the year.I'd like to know how much it will cost per person for the very few people who will use it.They did that to Golfside and I don't think I've ever seen a bike on it yet


Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 8:15 p.m.

a2cents.....I don't have a clue of what you mean.Since I'm typing, in regards to your previous comment why don't you tell us how great life was before the automobile. Cuz unless you are a 120 or 130 years old you can't


Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 6:19 p.m.

perhaps they see a bad attitude coming and hide?


Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 5:32 p.m.

The secret route central Ann Arbor to downtown Ypsi my granddad taught my father takes only four minutes and 13 seconds in the mornings, and just a few minutes longer in the afternoons, but if I told you what it was they'd have to kill you because of the oath.


Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 7:14 p.m.

You better not tell! Just like I will never tell about the secret downtown parking spot, good anytime, day or night.

G. Orwell

Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 5:19 p.m.

To the brilliant planners and "experts." We live in Michigan. We have severe winters. No one is going to ride bikes to buy groceries when there is snow on the grown and it is below freezing. All you smart people, learn some common sense. Also, why do AA politicians, mainly Democrats, hate the auto industries and all the union workers. You've already done enough damage to our manufacturing base with all the unnecessary and restrictive regulations and the passage of NAFTA that resulted in the outsourcing of millions of good jobs. Haven't you done enough damage?


Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 12:54 p.m.

NIcholas, how many bicyclists do you see on the roads in a2 during December, January and February?


Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 6:43 a.m.

Go for it, TommyJ. Just leave room for me when I'm walking or cycling.


Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 4:19 a.m.

I'm going to drive to get my groceries, even in the middle of summer. I don't care how many bike and bus lanes you make.

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 1:03 a.m.

"No one is going to ride bikes to buy groceries when there is snow on the grown and it is below freezing." Speak for yourself. My friends in A2 do it All The Time. Guess you haven't heard about a city called Minneapolis and the year round biking in the city. Google it. Contrary to some belief, snow does not melt the skin on contact. We do not live on Mt Everest. There are these things called jackets.. Etc.


Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 8:08 p.m.

Americans sure are selfish, spoiled brats...


Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 5:18 p.m.

The on/off ramps between washtenaw and 23 are just plain ugly. Redesign of those ramps could be key to easing some congestion in that particular area. The new sidewalks that cross freeway on ramps are just a huge invite for someone to get hit. While we all know to watch for it, there are plenty of people (and little pedestrian traffic) that all it will take is someone in the wrong place at the wrong time and not as familiar with the area (since how many actual sidewalks that cross ramps do you know of?). We have so much of people that come out of town that wouldn't even think to look for a sidewalk between the normal student turn over, football Saturdays, etc. What a mess.


Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 5:29 p.m.

Cars rule! Sorry peds but you are not allowed past US23. Did I read correctly?


Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 5:06 p.m.

Narrowing right now would be a big mistake. Sure we have to start some where, but expanding public transportation and safe non-motorized lanes would be the best option. We will need to continue to embrace the automobile for a great long time to come. AATA is great... For some people, but given a modern life and spending 3 hours on a bus one way for 20 minute drive isn't going to happen for some until those public transportation times are brought down. The best mix today is to expand and encourage those options while at least holding auto traffic steady. If/when traffic begins to subside, can we begin to talk about narrowing. Keep in mind we are encouraging a larger population in this area, and with that more transportation of all types. Lets all keep in mind that while everyone knows there are plenty of die hard road riders that tackle the elements 12 months out of the year, most people won't tackle the elements for 6 months out if the year (or less). Sure you have to start some where... As for the car/bike arguements. It's old, either be part of the solution, or please do everyone a favor and give it a rest. There are plenty of arguements on both sides of that are just wrong. There's plenty that can be fixed on both sides. Lane separation of the traffic is a step towards fixing the problem (though not an entire solution).


Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 4:20 a.m.

The AATA sucks. I don't care how many bus and bike lanes you make, it's not going to get me to stop driving my car.


Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 4:54 p.m.

Welcome to the Washtenaw Ave. parking lot!


Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 4:45 p.m.

As a somewhat newer transplant to the Ann Arbor area, I am unbelievably baffled by the zero-sum mentality to the transportation development around here, as though we can *only* accommodate cars at the expense of pedestrians/bicyclists, or vice-versa. Slimming down the auto lanes on Washtenaw or eliminating them will only serve to further the congestion that plagues that area. Currently it takes me half an hour to drive the seven miles to my job that's located around there, and I find that both maddening and confusing beyond all belief. It doesn't make me want to attempt to use public transport as an alternative, or to bike (something I can't do anyway due to severe physical limitations). What the congestion ACTUALLY does is cause me to avoid shopping over there in any way, or eating at one of the restaurants in the area, or anything else. I avoid downtown like the plague for the same reason, only going if I absolutely must & trying desperately to weave throughout side roads to keep away from the mess of traffic on the main thoroughfare. Since moving here well over a year ago, I have found myself more often traveling (via expressway) to other nearby towns and cities to do my shopping, solely to keep away from the logistical nightmare that is your road system here in Ann Arbor. The extra drive is worth it to stay far away from this three-ring circus. Yet, if there weren't this prevalent school of thought in this area that autos are Public Enemy #1 (an irony in and of itself given Michigan's dense history with automaking), and more steps were taken to ensure that both autos and bikes could occupy the same roads safely together vs. accommodating one at the expense of the other, maybe I would feel more likely to venture out into the city's shops and eateries. Surely there must be a way to help make the roads safer without punishing what is and will always be the prevalent mode of transportation.

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 12:54 a.m.

It was the same 15 years ago. This really isn't new. I was happy to take a job on the other side of ann arbor, instead of dearborn. My commute was nearly as long - regardless of whether I drove through town or took I94.

Elijah Shalis

Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 4:24 p.m.

This is insanity. Making the road smaller for regular traffic will be a nightmare.


Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 5:29 p.m.

Elijah......I rarely, if ever agree with you but I gave you a thumbs up


Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 4:17 p.m.

There is an excellent option to reduce traffic on Washtenaw. The intersections at Carpenter and Platt are the two highest accident areas in the county. Cars utilizing expressways are funnelled to Washtenaw at either Carpenter or Platt from far away. Ramps to I-94 or US-23 down near Ellsworth would be wonderful. Ellsworth a wide safe road near the theaters and west of 23. This could be a fabulous relief to both Washtenaw and also to State street and I-94. I believe ramps would have to be a certain distance away from the 94/23 interchange but there is a fair amount of room, government owned land up and down the Ellsworth corridor to choose from. It's time to think more creatively about positive ways to reduce high-traffic, accident prone roads! Moving even a relatively small volume of cars off Washtenaw would really make bike traffic much safer there too.


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 3:04 a.m.

@aarog, brilliant idea.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 11:13 a.m.

This is an excellent suggestion! I do have some ideas on how to make it work within the U.S. DOT rules, but it would require a vote of the citizens to repurpose a small slice of an Ann Arbor park to make it work. On the plus side, it would probably significantly increase the access to and from SE Ann Arbor and therefore the property prices of the homes and businesses in SE Ann Arbor. You would have to build an interchange on I-94 west of Platt and north of Ellsworth to have adequate interchange spacing. You could build an access road along the north side of I-94 from Ellsworth across Platt leading to the on ramp. Everything but an off ramp from I-94 west might be able to be built, though the on ramp to I-94 East might be problematic as the curve woud be very tight. The things you can't build at Platt you could build at Carpenter. A half interchange would allow you to enter I-94 East via a dedicated access road parallel to I-94 to Michigan Avenue which then allows you to enter the freeway at a reconfigured interchange similar to the eastbound I-94 /U.S. 23 interchange. Similarly, a dedicated access road to Carpenter could be built starting from the Michigan Avenue interchange allowing an exit to Carpenter Road fom I-94 West.


Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 4:09 p.m.

Discussion to narrow the road between Platt and Carpenter, the busiest intersections in Washtenawy county, are astounding and bizarre at best. Exceedingly frustrating to me the "narrow" plays any part of any discussion of this road. That tells me those people should be immediately removed from all discussions about Washtenaw Avenue.

Basic Bob

Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 4:24 p.m.

While the most congested and dangerous roads in the entire county - Washtenaw, Carpenter, and Michigan Avenue are ignored or even bottlenecked, environmental assessments are performed with the goal of widening State Road to a 4 lane boulevard with little fanfare. The east side of Pittsfield is being transformed into a revenue source for the police rather than a desirable place to live connecting two vital urban areas.

shadow wilson

Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 3:39 p.m.

The agenda is clear ; the automobile is evil.Ironic since the auto industry created the middle class and built all of S.E. Mich. There would be no A2 and the UM without the auto industry. The car aint going no where.In fact it is becoming more and more advanced as time goes on.....the car industry is here to stay. I am dismayed by the limited view and the failure to acknowledge the vast contribution of the auto industry

shadow wilson

Mon, Jun 3, 2013 : 3:16 a.m.

completely wrong huh..... As I said the auto is a necessity. Make fun of and act smarmy all you like good luck at 3am when you need something and you don't have any transportation.

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 12:12 p.m.

"As for less people driving so what. If you have children you'd better have a car good luck trying to get to urgent care or the E.R I can think of other scenarios where it is clearly evident the car is a necessity," Great reply. When you are demonstrated to be completely wrong on multiple points, don't back down - instead, bring out the "think of the children" line.

shadow wilson

Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 5:23 a.m.

gee whiz nicholas how the heck do you think the um got it's money? sure there would be an ann arbor and um but without the monied interests from the auto industry it would not enjoy the status it now does. Sorry if that upsets some of you it is reality As for less people driving so what. If you have children you'd better have a car good luck trying to get to urgent care or the E.R I can think of other scenarios where it is clearly evident the car is a necessity,

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 1 a.m.

@shadow wilsone: "There would be no A2 and the UM without the auto industry." Wrong. History lesson: Ann Arbor and Umich were founded many decades before there were cars here. Repeat: those things existing before the auto industry you tout. This city, like most, was built for people. Not cars. Those roads? They were created for horses and bicycles.

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Jun 2, 2013 : 12:52 a.m.

"The car aint going no where.In fact it is becoming more and more advanced as time goes on.....the car" Newflash: there are fewer people driving in the USA. Auto use is on the decline. Google. it.

shadow wilson

Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 5:54 p.m.

style through employment in the many area college grads were able to attend because of that elevated life style Please don't perpetuate the myth that the car ruined mass transit...something better came along.. the bus and then the car.

shadow wilson

Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 5:50 p.m.

a2 two cents, how unfortunate you have such an uninformed sense of history. Since you asked: I am referring to the vast sums of money contributed by the auto industry to build our area Universities. I am referring to the countless likely hundreds of thousands of people that enjoyed an elevated life


Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 5:27 p.m. do realize that cars have been around for over 100 years don't you ?


Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 5:18 p.m.

contributions? You of course mean endless concrete, vast parking lots, pollution, noise, the demise of widely-available mass transit, stacks of dead and maimed, and urban/suburban sprawl unending. Gee, thanks !

shadow wilson

Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 4:34 p.m.

wait for traffic to clear. My concern is for the demonetization of the automobile. It is wrong and disregards not only history but the advances the industry is making

shadow wilson

Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 4:29 p.m.

Please spare us the car horror stories of cutting off bikes etc.....for every one you have there is at least one for the rudeness of bikers.If I had my way we would go back to the days when there were no laws/ordinances regarding bikes. That might result in common sense being used and bikers would simply


Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 3:46 p.m.

Are you looking for cyclists to salute every car that cuts them off, drives in the bike lane, runs a red light, or breaks the speed limit? Why on earth would you be offended if Washtenaw is made safer for pedestrians and cyclists? Are you worried you might take 10 seconds longer to get to your destination? If there's better public transit options, better walking options, and better cycling options, there will be *less* cars in your way, making your commute *faster* not slower.


Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 3:32 p.m.

Automobile Traffic is a problem on Washtenaw, and the solution is adding non-motorized lanes and public transit. Why is it a problem admitting that you have to consider automobile traffic before others on major routes. At 5:00pm on a weekday your a fool to be on Washtenaw Ave. on a bike! You can make it as difficult as you can to drive a car in Ann Arbor and it won't make a difference, people will still drive. Thanks for paying another consulting firm on how to get people to not drive.


Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 7:53 p.m.

It's not sad to agree. If roads are busy and parking lots are full, business is good. This town needs business to thrive.


Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 7:14 p.m.

As sad as it is I have to agree. I remember when Whole Foods went in - they were allowed to bypass the parking requirements with a song and dance about how folks were going to ride their bikes and walk there (sadly, people actually did do that at the old location). The result -- the most poorly planned parking lot in Ann Arbor and a constant lack of parking. Let's not be fooled twice - Washtenaw is a major road to the highway, and needs to be treated as such.