DETROIT—Plans for a new streetcar system and a high-speed bus transit route mean big changes are coming to Woodward Avenue, but there’s something else in the works that could make life easier for bicyclists, wheelchair users and pedestrians along the iconic 27-mile corridor.
An effort is now underway to create a Complete Streets Master Plan for Woodward. Planners for the project will be meeting next month in Bloomfield Hills to discuss their progress. The event, which takes place Friday, Dec. 6, will also be open to interested members of the public who register and pay a small fee.
Complete Streets is a design philosophy that emphasizes building roads with all users in mind, rather than simply prioritizing the needs of cars and trucks.
In Michigan, it’s also the law of the land. State legislation passed in 2010 requires engineers and planners involved with new state, county and local roadway projects to design and build them to provide “appropriate access” to all legal users including bicyclists, pedestrians, transit users and people with disabilities who use assistive devices to travel.
Jason Fowler is the program manager of economic development for the Woodward Avenue Action Association, the non-profit facilitating the Woodward Complete Streets project. He told Mode Shift a steering committee made up of local communities and other partner organizations have been working on the master plan for about a year-and-a-half.
“A lot of the municipality leaders came to us and asked what we could do to improve the accessibility and the image of Woodward,” he said. “We really started looking into Complete Streets. We wrote and were awarded a $752,000 grant by the federal highway administration to conduct the master plan using complete streets ideals and tools for the entire corridor from the [Detroit] River all the way to the loop in Pontiac.”
Last November, the steering committee selected the Parsons Brinckerhoff firm as the project’s lead consultant. Since that time, they’ve taken public input, combined it with planning info from other project’s happening along the corridor like M-1 Rail, SEMCOG’s Woodward Avenue Transit Alternatives study, and a Transit Oriented Development Analysis and compiled them together into a draft plan.
The upcoming planner’s gathering will give participants a chance to learn about about the current state of the master plan and to see the results of community meetings, workshops and walking audits that have been conducted for the effort.
The event, which is being sponsored by Oakland County, will take place Dec. 6 between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at the Iroquois Club at 43248 N. Woodward in Bloomfield Hills. Barbara Arens, a regional vice president for Parsons Brinckerhoff, will be speaking along with Fowler from WA3.
Fowler hopes the gathering will help raise awareness about Complete Streets and spark public feedback on the master plan.
“The most important thing for people to do is to see what we’ve done and comment on it, even if it’s to tell us that we’ve gone too far or they don't like what were doing,” he said. “We don’t want this to be a dictatorial process, and we don't want this to be a plan sitting on a shelf gathering dust.”
Those interested in attending the planners gathering can register here. Space is limited and there is a $20 fee for attending.