City Turns Its Attention to Lincoln, Woodward Crossing

The Birmingham Planning Department suggested improving the pedestrian crossing at Lincoln and Woodward at the joint meeting Monday of the City Commission and Planning Board.

Have you tried crossing Woodward Avenue at Lincoln lately? According to several city commissioners and planning board members, it's dangerous and hard to cross in one trip — and it should be fixed.

At , Planning Director Jana Ecker updated the group on work done by the Woodward Avenue Action Association (WA3) to improve the intersections at Lincoln, Bowers, Brown and Maple.

Ecker said WA3 hired consultants to evaluate the intersections to find ways to increase access and safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and the disabled. These crossing improvements were identified as a top priority by the City Commission and Planning Board at , Ecker said.

Ecker said the city's believes that of all the pedestrian crossings under consideration, Lincoln and Woodward deserves the most attention. So far, the intersection has been largely ignored by the city, Ecker said.

And unlike other intersections — such as Maple and Woodward — there is no new development interest on any of the four corners of Lincoln and Woodward, Ecker said.

Ecker said the city has $25,000 allocated this fiscal year toward Woodward crossing improvements, money that could be spent on helping to straighten the intersection and clean up the four corners and the medians.

Mayor Pro Tem Mark Nickita said the whole point of correcting the Woodward crossings is to better allow Birmingham residents to cross from downtown to the Triangle District across the street — a big step in making the Triangle District successful, he said.

Commissioner Tom McDaniel wasn't a fan of putting any money toward improving pedestrian crossings until Woodward Avenue can be reimagined, whether that means slowing traffic through the city or narrowing the road.

"Until Woodward is reimagined, I think we're wasting our money," he said. "This might make the intersection look better, but it won't make the crossings better."

To change Woodward, though, means putting the pressure on the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), said Planning Board member Bryan Williams said — a feat that's proven challenging in the past.

Still, Planning Board member Carol DeWeese noted that since Complete Streets — or the concept of integrating pedestrian, bicycle and mass transit traffic into city planning — is now a state mandate, Birmingham should have the leverage it needs with MDOT to make changes on Woodward.

"We've got to make our problem (MDOT's) problem in a big way," Commissioner Scott Moore said.

With the majority of the board in agreement that the Lincoln crosswalk is the top priority for improvements, Ecker said the Planning Department will put together a proposal that puts the $25,000 toward final design and construction plans.

Construction would be planned for next year, and the city's has estimated that the project will cost approximately $300,000. Twenty-five percent of that cost would be assessed to the surrounding properties and businesses.

Tony May October 19, 2011 at 07:37 PM
Crossing Woodward Avenue on foot is always an interesting adventure. It is like crossing a super-highway. I keep a distance from the roadway while waiting to cross. Images in my mind of the vehicle imbedded in the Bank of Birmingham front windows show how easily someone can be forced off the roadway. Sadly, those crossing are less frequent with the closing of Borders Books. Perhaps the time is right for a Book Beat type storefront and newstand in downtown Birmingham. That would be great. Books and periodicals are not extinct, yet!


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