Message from the City Manager: Update on Coolidge Road Project
The Coolidge Complete Streets Project was delayed in 2020 due to the decreased traffic related to virtual schooling and work from home requirements. Traffic patterns and volumes would not reflect normal activity, so we paused the evaluation process. Our goal in this project is to continue gathering reliable and accurate data to make the best decision possible for the future design of the Coolidge Road corridor. We also wanted to ensure traffic volumes would be properly measured when individuals were traveling more frequently again and schools were back in session.
Now, with Berkley School District returning to full, in-person learning along with, steady traffic patterns beginning to emerge as people make long term decisions on whether to return to their place of employment, the City is working to resume the evaluation process and traffic data collection to measure its current effects on safety and functionality of the Coolidge Road pilot design. We have a tentative date to begin this process in May.
What This Will Mean
If you are not aware, one of Berkley’s main roadways, Coolidge Hwy, was restriped in the Summer of 2019 to improve many aspects of the road’s functions and implement multimodal accommodations. The last measurement the City was able to gather was at the 6-month interval. The City had planned to remeasure at the 12-month interval (before the COVID-19 pandemic) to evaluate whether or not to proceed with an additional year of data collection. This would have taken place in May/June 2020. Now, as we remeasure the conditions along Coolidge and its side streets, we will look specifically at eight criteria:
- Roadway Capacity / Daily Volumes
- Level of Service (LOS) on Coolidge at the individual signalized intersection
- Accommodates Volume of Turning Movements
- Traffic volume on Kipling, Kenmore, Berkley, and Beverly
- Crash Rate per Mile
- Crash Rate at individual intersections
- Vehicle Speeds
- Emergency Vehicle Movement
During the measurement process, you will see traffic counters along Coolidge, Kipling, Kenmore, Berkley, and Beverly. These counters will be placed in the same locations as the March 2019 baseline studies to make as direct a comparison as possible.
Is It Too Soon?
Possibly, yes. School traffic has normalized but there are still statewide regulations on working from home which have recently been extended for six months. When these are lifted, it is reasonable to expect another shift in traffic patterns as companies and business owners make decisions on the future of their workforce. There is no denying that the effect of the pandemic has yet to be fully realized. The decision to move forward with traffic counts was not easy but the data is important to the decision-making process.
While discussed for many years, this phase of the project kicked off in early 2019 with a series of informational meetings hosted by the City and the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) discussing some of the challenges businesses and drivers had to face on Coolidge.
This led to some ideas such as, restricting the painted lines on the road to creating wider street parking lanes, creating a continuous left-turn lane down Coolidge, and reducing the north and south travel lanes from two to one in each direction. The additional road width was dedicated to bike lanes on either side of the street. With this, the project proceeds as follows:
- Baseline traffic studies- In March of 2019, traffic counts, speed, travel times, levels of service, etc. were measured for a baseline date before any changes were made to Coolidge.
- May to June 2019- Coolidge was restriped to the current pilot design. The restriping was officially completed on June 4, 2019, and fully open to vehicular traffic.
- September/October 2019- The six-month data was collected from September 30 through October 4, 2019.
- March 10, 2020- First COVID-19 cases were detected in Michigan.
- March 16, 2020- Berkley School District suspends in-person learning in all schools.
- March 23, 2020- Governor Whitmer mandates the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order for the State as part of the lockdown strategy to slow the spread of COVID-19.
- May 2020- Scheduled 12-month traffic measurements postponed due to changes in traffic patterns associated with the pandemic lockdown.
- April 2021- Berkley Schools resume in-person learning.
- May 2021- Traffic counts scheduled in place of the postponed 12-month study.
- Summer 2021- Evaluation of traffic data.
By mid-Summer 2021, the City will review the latest counts against the baseline study taken in March 2019 and determine if a decision can be made on the project’s overall safety and functionality per the agreed-upon metrics matrix. It is possible an additional six months will be needed to accommodate the extension of the work from home mandates from the State.