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Posted on Mon, May 20, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Public invited to discuss bike lanes, pedestrian crossings and transit improvements on Washtenaw Avenue

By Ryan J. Stanton

Plans for reconfiguring the Washtenaw Avenue corridor between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti will be the topic of discussion at a series of public workshops later this month.

Officials from the city of Ann Arbor, Pittsfield Township, Ypsilanti Township and the city of Ypsilanti, working with urban design and transportation consultants, are hoping to get public feedback on future road configuration alternatives proposed as part of the ReImagine Washtenaw initiative.

That includes proposals for adding bike lanes, sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, streetscapes, buffers and transit stops, said Nathan Voght, the project manager for ReImagine Washtenaw. Voght said on Friday the plans aren't available for public release yet.


Download the poster for the workshops.

ReImagine Washtenaw is a multi-jurisdictional effort to look at land-use planning and public transit along the county's most congested and auto-centric road and transform it into a safe, multi-modal route with mixed-use development and enhanced transit services and amenities.

Professional staff planners and elected officials from the four municipalities have been leading the effort.

Additional partners include the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, Michigan Department of Transportation, Washtenaw County, Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Washtenaw Area Transportation Study.

AATA CEO Michael Ford provided an update on ReImagine Washtenaw in a recent report to AATA's governing board, noting the partners met recently to talk about road cross-section alternatives being considered.

Ford said a few different configurations are on the table at this point, including options for dedicated transit lanes, buffered bike lanes, continuous sidewalks and transit improvements that include a series of "super-stops" for AATA buses along Route 4.

"It is important to understand that the final plan will not be implemented quickly," Ford said. "Rather, it will establish development and zoning requirements to guide development and improvements."

ReImagine Washtenaw is involved in multiple projects to make the road more friendly to pedestrians and bicyclists and address traffic congestion and land-use issues along the corridor.

Master plans, zoning ordinances and design guidelines are being updated to ensure future developments consider walkability, transit needs and provide more "sense of place." Numerous projects have been completed or are wrapping up this year, including Arbor Hills, a new upscale retail development across from Whole Foods, and the MDOT non-motorized path at US-23.

"Through the ReImagine Washtenaw efforts, we are beginning to see visible results with recent improvements along the corridor," said Pittsfield Township Supervisor Mandy Grewal.

"We are now asking the public and all corridor stakeholders for specific input on the future alternatives currently being considered by our coalition," she said. "We need to find out what the community thinks the best approach is to making a safer and more inviting pedestrian environment, one that is more accommodating for bicyclists, and provides more sense of place."

The first workshop takes place from 6-8 p.m. May 28 at the Washtenaw County Service Center, 4135 Washtenaw Ave. The second takes place from 8-10 a.m. May 29 at the same location.

The third workshop takes place from 7-9 p.m. May 30 at Carpenter Elementary School, 4250 Central Boulevard. The fourth takes place from 2-4 p.m. May 31 at Eastern Michigan University inside Room 330 of the McKenny Union located where Washtenaw Avenue meets Cross Street.

Kari Martin, MDOT’s University Region planner, said MDOT is looking forward to continuing its collaboration with the ReImagine Washtenaw initiative to ensure future improvements address both MDOT's needs and also the community's vision for the corridor.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Mon, May 20, 2013 : 10:57 p.m.

Great information to know. Will share with others!


Mon, May 20, 2013 : 6:58 p.m.

I would have no problems with an effort such as this on Packard Rd. It runs mostly parallel to Washtenaw and wouldn't be too inconvenient. I just think as a whole, Ann Arbor needs to look at main traffic arteries and try to find a way to accommodate both motorized vehicles and bicycles. I think it can be done.


Mon, May 20, 2013 : 4:47 p.m.

Last year, I remember reading about plans to narrow down Jackson Rd east of Maple to add in bike lanes. Does anyone know whether that will happen?


Mon, May 20, 2013 : 6:12 p.m.

Last I knew it was for 2014, and it will be two files of uninterrupted most of the time. Jackson RD is not like Stadium between Pauline and 7th. It is plain foolishness to do this.


Mon, May 20, 2013 : 3:40 p.m.

It is typical of the arrogance of the local "planners" that they pretend to want public comment but "the plans aren't available for public release yet." In other words, people will be invited to come to meetings where they will be told what the elite has decided, without a chance at an advanced look.


Mon, May 20, 2013 : 3:34 p.m.

Washtenaw Avenue is designated as a (numbered) highway by state and federal authorities. It is overburdened as a main traffic artery Further squeezing this traffic and introducing bikes alongside cars is a recipe for mayhem. The intersection of Washtenaw with Carpenter and Hogback already has the most accidents in Greater Ann Arbor.


Mon, May 20, 2013 : 5:35 p.m.

Correct, it is the 94 bypass and it doesn't flow like this at most times of the day. The idea of adding more lights just blows my mind. I understand the need for certain lights and crosswalks, but their needs to be a better way. We should try a walking bridge at the Platt/Washtenaw intersection that goes over Washtenaw. In response to previous poster, you can have all the patience in the world, but during rush hour time it is ridiculous the back ups and the lack of flow down Washtenaw.

Real Life

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 1:48 p.m.

1) revert South Main and west Stadium to four lane automobile traffic. 2) If you want bike lanes get them off the road. 3) If you want pedestrian crossings, use traffic lights - the "honor system" causing injuries and accidents.


Mon, May 20, 2013 : 3:53 p.m.

1) South Main and West Stadium are just fine with 3 lanes. I drive them all the time and there is no need for more lanes. 2) Bikes belong on the road and are legally entitled to be on the road. 3) Crosswalks with pedestrian activated lights seem to work just fine crossing 3 and 4 lane roads. There are still some places where they haven't put them in yet and that needs to be fixed. Fortunately, the light at Platt and Washtenaw will eliminate the unsignalized crosswalk just west of that intersection where someone was nearly killed in the last year or so.


Mon, May 20, 2013 : 1:58 p.m.

I kinda liked the idea of removing the Stadium overpass, (over State), bring it all down to street level, then build a round-about, including the train tracks. Now THAT would certainly be a fun roundabout... But seriously, I like public transit, mass transit, and I think the auto-mo-car is the bane of earthly existence.


Mon, May 20, 2013 : 1:32 p.m.

"Reimagine Washtenaw" has three objectives: facilitate the movement of traffic along Washtenaw Avenue, encourage economic development along the route and beautify the roadway. Unfortunately, in the process of encouraging new business construction like Arbor Hills, the plan produces impediments to the flow of traffic by imposing more traffic lights and entrances/exits to the Washtenaw Avenue. It will not be safe to have dedicated bike lanes next to traffic lanes and also not safe to have bike lanes share pedestrian sidewalks. Reducing the number of traffic lanes along Washtenaw Avenue, for any reason, will significantly impede traffic flow. The only safe way to get pedestrians from one side of Washtenaw Avenue to the other without impeding traffic requires installing pedestrian overpasses (or tunnels) that are ADA compliant. The latter requirement will greatly lengthen an overpass (or tunnel) in order to maintain a limited slope that allows wheel chair movement. Stairs alone will not be ADA compliant. Construction of an appropriate overpass (or tunnel) will be expensive and place special requirement for the land that it occupies. In sum, overpasses are impractical.

Robert Granville

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 1:13 p.m.

I know what would be the biggest help on Washtenaw. Require all drivers to master the art of patient, considerate driving. HA! Fat chance....

Nicholas Urfe

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 12:57 p.m.

This planning process is all extremely welcome. Pedestrian or bike traffic along a road like washtenaw is a huge challenge. There are so many drivers making spontaneous "emergency" turns into businesses, cutting across multiple lanes of traffic, etc. The potential for getting mowed down at any curb cut is huge. Another consideration. I have a friend who is legally blind. He should be able to walk down a sidewalk without getting hit by crazy drivers. Along washtenaw, that notion is as crazy as the traffic. Washtenaw needs more enforcement, or traffic calming, or something.


Mon, May 20, 2013 : 1:17 p.m.

Read "Reimagine Washtenaw" because the intent is to facilitate the movement of traffic and not to slow it down. Of course, every time that a new traffic light or another safety crosswalk is added traffic will be delayed.


Mon, May 20, 2013 : 12:45 p.m.

Pedestrian crossings are scary to me, as a pedestrian and a driver. As a pedestrian, I'm not sure if some will stop or not, and as a driver because some fool thinks that because they have the right of way the ignore the laws of physics. i.e. Can I stop in time based on my momentum?

Real Life

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 1:50 p.m.

Yes, the "honor system" causes injuries to pedestrians and accidents for cars.


Mon, May 20, 2013 : 1:15 p.m.

Not to mention how safety crosswalks spanning Washtenaw Avenue will greatly slow down traffic. If the city decides to have even on new crosswalk along Washtenaw Avenue without a traffic light it will not last long.


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

How about we "reimagine" Ann Arbor? Washtenaw is as good a place to start,,. all the way across town to Huron and Dexter/Jackson to I-94... enforce the Ann Arbor ring and ban motorcars from the city! (Don't know what the Ann Arbor ring is? Take a look at the map, what do you see?) Imagine that whole area without motorcars (that term includes steam, electric, coal, gasoline and diesel).


Mon, May 20, 2013 : 12:37 p.m.

We could go back to horses and horse drawn carts to deliver supplies to businesses within the ring. We could go back to the 1800s. That's a truly progressive idea .... NOT.


Mon, May 20, 2013 : 11:13 a.m.

I drive this road everyday to work and putting in bike lanes would be a huge mistake. This road is packed during rush hour and like a previous poster stated, the number of driveways in and out of businesses would make it unsafe. They need to make pull offs for the AATA buses like they did by Arborland. The AATA buses back up traffic big time during rush hour. With pull off areas, two lanes can continue to flow while the bus is loading and unloading people. The Arborland area is a mess, the two light (one for 23 and one by Arborland) are to close, one turns green while one goes red, no flow in traffic. They just built these huge sidewalks on the North side of Washtenaw, I never see anyone on these sidewalks, walking or riding a bike. That seems like the perfect bike lane to me. They are wider than normal sidewalk and generally not that many people walking them either. Lastly, I sure hope they aren't planning more stop lights for the new buildings being built by Platt and Washtenaw, that will cut down all flow of traffic on Washtenaw. I am anxious to hear what people recommend.


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

An entrance/exit from Arbor Hills will be present on Washtenaw Avenue also, so that there will be two entrances/exits. The additional traffic on Platt related to Arbor Hills (presuming many customers visit the place) warrants a light and hopefully will allow left turns for once. However, the new traffic light at Platt and Washtenaw and the new entrance/exit to and from Arbor Hills on Washtenaw Avenue can expect to slow down traffic. Delaying the movement of traffic along Washtenaw Avenue is not what Reimagine Washtenaw wanted.


Mon, May 20, 2013 : 12:52 p.m.

The real issue is the dolts who don't comprehend a successful traffic-inhibition program and drive anyway.


Mon, May 20, 2013 : 12:42 p.m.

There is a plan to put a new traffic light at the Washntenaw/Platt intersection. Traffic for the new Arbor Hills shopping center will enter and exit from Platt.


Mon, May 20, 2013 : 10:47 a.m.

There are too many entrances onto Washtenaw which was poor planning from the get go. I don't know how that can be resolved but cars come out at you from every where. The entrance into Arborland should be reconfigured.


Mon, May 20, 2013 : 3:48 p.m.

Looking at consolidating the entrances into and out of the various shopping centers makes a lot of sense.

Kyle Mattson

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 1:21 p.m.

Hi Robert- I wouldn't deems Ariesw's comment as dumb, she may have a point worth considering. Maybe someone can give a bit more background on this as I'm no planning expert, but I believe there had been studies on how carefully planned entrances to/from a lots off of main roads can improve traffic flow and safety.

Robert Granville

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 1:10 p.m.

Too many entrances? I've seen some dumb comments but wow. I guess people should only be able to access Washtenaw or leave it at your planned destinations huh?

sandy schopbach

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 10:24 a.m.

I'm far away right now, on assignment, so I'll miss the meeting. But I certainly hope the bike lanes will be kept TOTALLY separate from the car lanes. Traffic on Washtenaw is heavy, distracted and undisciplined. Someone will probably bring that vital point up. The Arbor Hills "mall" presently under construction needs to have taken pedestrians and bikes into consideration as of the design stage, and if it hasn't, it's probably too late now because one of your articles said the shops would be right up against the sidewalks... and it looks like the sidewalks will be right up against Washtenaw... which is a bad idea. They need to be set back enough to create a buffer against cars going up over the curb, and then have had a bike lane, and then have had the sidewalk. If that's what's been planned already, then I apologize; if it isn't... well, it should have been. Another idea would be to use the parking areas along the south (east?) side of Washtenaw from Huron Parkway to US-23 for pedestrian and bike traffic. There's plenty of space there. That would solve the problem in that heavy traffic density leg of the road. Generally speaking, Holland, and more particularly Amsterdam (since we're comparing a city to a city), would be a perfect place to start looking for excellent ideas to solve these problems. Send the city planners over there for a week. Let them walk and bike around. They'll come back much the wiser.

Lizzy Alfs

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 1:14 p.m.

@Veracity: The design of Arbor Hills does include windows, including some walls that are almost entirely windows. I know the walls you're talking about that appear to be all brick, but some windows will be incorporated into that, I'm told.

Robert Granville

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 1:07 p.m.

Can't help but think of Captain Hindsight the way you phrased your suggestions.


Mon, May 20, 2013 : 1:04 p.m.

Have you seen the construction? No to worry: the walls facing the street appear to be solid stone without windows. Put barbed wire on the top of the wall and you can mistake the building as a prison.

Nicholas Urfe

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 12:54 p.m.

If your shops are right up against washtenaw, get ready for broken windows from the stones that fly out of trucks and from their tires.