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Posted on Tue, May 28, 2013 : 5:55 a.m.

Reimagining Washtenaw Avenue: Series of 4 public workshops begins Tuesday night

By Ryan J. Stanton

Whether you live, work, shop, dine or travel along Washtenaw Avenue, local officials working on the ReImagine Washtenaw project say they need your input.

The first in a series of public workshops aimed at getting community feedback on options for improving the corridor between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti is tonight from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Washtenaw County Service Center, 4135 Washtenaw Ave.


Download the poster for the workshops.

The workshops being held this week are intended to get input on proposed future road configuration alternatives, which include adding bike lanes, sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, streetscapes, buffers, and transit stops along the corridor.

The idea is to create a safer and more inviting environment for pedestrians and bicyclists, meeting transit needs, addressing traffic congestion and land use, and creating a sense of place. Master plans, zoning ordinances and design guidelines are being updated to reflect those considerations.

Officials from the city of Ann Arbor, Pittsfield Township, Ypsilanti Township and the city of Ypsilanti are working with urban design and transportation consultants.

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.

More information can be found on the project website at, on Facebook at or by contacting project manager Nathan Voght at or 734-222-3860.

After tonight's first public workshop, a second one will be held from 8-10 a.m. Wednesday at the Washtenaw County Service Center, 4135 Washtenaw Ave.

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

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.



Wed, May 29, 2013 : 3:39 a.m.

Everyone should become familiar with the Washtenaw corridor improvement proposal by examining the materials at the following site: The proposal is a "Trojan Horse" intended to obtain tax payer dollars to assist funding private development. The plan will not improve traffic flow and indeed may worsen congestion along Washtenaw Avenue. Designs for transforming Washtenaw Avenue will replace a lane with either a trolley system or median strip with trees. How will reducing the number of lanes improve traffic flow? Furthermore, Arbor Hills and other private developments along Washtenaw Avenue in Ann Arbor will increase traffic volume along Washtenaw Avenue and a traffic light at Platt Road and Washtenaw Avenue will impede traffic flow. Land for commercial development has been available along Washtenaw Avenue for many years and empty buildings attest to difficulty of sustaining businesses along the corridor. Adding sidewalks will not improve future prospects of success. Shoppers will not walk or cycle the long stretches in order to shop and carry packages. Crossing Washtenaw Avenue will remain limited to the few street locations which have traffic lights. No pedestrian bridges or tunnels are planned for the corridor. Developing the Washtenaw corridor will not assure citizens of Ann Arbor better traffic flow or additional desirable shopping experiences. Developers know this and therefore are unwilling to develop available properties without putting Ann Arbor tax payers at risk with them. As an example, Arbor Hills has its TIF payments rescinded for 19 years allegedly as reimbursement for Brownfield Remediation and for site development. The present city and DDA budgets are difficult to balance now. Let us not allow a Washtenaw Corridor Improvement Authority to siphon valuable tax dollars away from more important and deserving initiatives, like road repairs and hiring more firemen and policemen.

Steve Hendel

Tue, May 28, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

Nothing much in the article TO discuss, Ryan. What might be interesting is a general discussion about the usefulness of all these public forums and focus groups which politicians and local officials convene whenever (it seems to me) they wish to avoid making a decision. Do the people who attend these sessions truly represent public opinion, or just the opinions of those who are passionate, one way or another, on the issue in question? Also, the fact that such sessions often exclude questions of cost and financing (to my mind) seriously weaken any claim they might have to representing public opinion . Example: the defunct Washtenaw Transportation Plan. There were public sessions galore, and the participants were all enthusiastic about new transit options, expanded services, etc; however, when cost started to enter the discussion, and people realized that "There ain't no such thing as free lunch," then boom-the elected legislative bodies in almost every local governmental unit in the County rejected the Plan.