Coolidge Road Study
The City of Berkley is considering a proposal to reconfigure a one-mile stretch of Coolidge Highway in an effort to make the road a friendlier route for pedestrians, drivers and bicyclists.
“We want Coolidge to be safer and more inviting for all users,” Berkley Mayor Dan Terbrack said. “Ideally, the Coolidge Corridor would become a ‘go-to’ destination rather than a ‘go-through’ travel route. Reconfiguring the road is a key element to changing the feel of Coolidge.”
The project could yield benefits for all users of the road. Right now, it’s a difficult stretch for pedestrians to cross, even with a pair of crosswalks installed earlier this year by the Berkley Downtown Development Authority (DDA). Nor is there a center turn lane to prevent traffic from coming to a stop whenever a vehicle makes a left turn, forcing backups for morning and afternoon commutes.
The proposal being discussed will change the number of travel lanes and add a continuous center turn lane between 11 Mile and 12 Mile. This will allow for easier turns and will reduce bottlenecks. The configuration would also decrease rear-end accidents and sideswipe collisions.
The Berkley City Council plans to schedule a Town Hall meeting sometime in November to gather public input on the proposal. Berkley City Manager Matt Baumgarten said if the project does move ahead, traffic studies would be conducted in the surrounding neighborhoods to determine if traffic counts go up in the adjacent side streets as a result of the lane reconfiguration.
“Our first priority is to make sure the surrounding neighborhoods and local businesses benefit from the new configuration,” he said. “A restriping project like this needs an extended test to see if more permanent street improvements should also be explored.”
If the new configuration does not yield the intended benefits, Baumgarten said the City can restripe Coolidge back to four lanes.
Reconfiguring the road is one element of a larger multi-community planning process between the cities of Berkley, Huntington Woods and Oak Park, to explore ways to enhance the pedestrian experience and research ‘green infrastructure options’ to mitigate stormwater run-off along the Coolidge Corridor from 9 Mile to 12 Mile.
Northbound and southbound bike lanes would be added along the one-mile stretch under the proposal. Travel lanes will be narrowed, allowing for larger parking spaces along the route. The new configuration would be safer for pedestrians since they will have a bigger buffer and not need to cross as many lanes. This is especially beneficial for students crossing Coolidge while walking to nearby Berkley High School or Anderson Middle School.
Businesses along Coolidge are expected to benefit as well. The new configuration will slow down traffic slightly while moving it at a steady pace. It also adds nearly 40 new parking spaces to the district.
“This is a win-win for everyone,” Berkley DDA Executive Director Vivian Carmody said. “Road diets enhance business districts by slowing traffic, which allows drivers to notice the shops and restaurants along the way, and they offer a friendlier experience for both pedestrians and bicyclists.”
The City Council discussed possible improvements to Coolidge following a presentation in August on the proposed reconfiguration by Carmody and Cheryl Gregory, vice president and senior transportation project manager with Spalding DeDecker.
Carmody said an analysis of the proposed project by the Transportation Improvement Association determined a reconfiguration of the road could reduce accidents by at least 28 percent. A center turn lane would also provide a dedicated lane for emergency response vehicles heading to Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak.
The DDA held several public input sessions to gather feedback on the proposed reconfiguration. Berkley residents and community stakeholders who have questions or comments about the proposal can contact the City at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If the City Council approves of the plan, the restriping will occur in spring of 2019. Funding for the initial restriping is being provided by the DDA. To learn more about the project, visit the Berkley DDA website at www.downtownberkley.com.