Birmingham is looking to tear up and redesign the south end of Old Woodward in the next few years, and according to preliminary plans, it won't look anything like North Old Woodward.
The plans, presented to the Birmingham City Commission at their Monday night meeting, instead featured left turn lanes at all intersections and no center medians.
Commissioners approved the conceptual design of the redesigned road, which stretches from Willits all the way south to Brown Street. The plans will then be used to apply for federal funding from the Oakland County Federal Aid Committee.
In total, City Engineer Paul O'Meara said the total project should cost around $1.8 million, not counting engineering costs. O'Meara said depending on the level of federal funding they receive, the city could receive between $650,000 and $1.4 million of those construction costs.
The project is tentatively slated for the 2016 construction season and would also involve a complete rebuild of the water and sewer lines along South Old Woodward.
The plans were drawn up by the Old Woodward Avenue Conceptual Design Ad Hoc Committee, created by the city in August 2011. Made up of city commissioners and members from various city boards — from the traffic and safety board to the planning board — the committee suggested two potential redesigns for South Old Woodward:
- Option 2A: This design reconstructs the road at the width it is today, replacing the extra wide driving lanes with a striped, left-turn lane up the middle. According to the committee, the left-turn lane is a "critical safety improvement that helps the funding application gain points needed to compete against other projects in the region."
- Option 2A Revised: Since some on the committee felt the left-turn lane served little purpose on the longer blocks, the revised plan gradually narrows the street south of Maple and Merrill, making it a two-lane road, with left-turn lanes at intersections. The narrowing would allow the city to widen the sidewalks by five additional feet.
Commissioners approved both plans, since, according to a report from O'Meara, the decision on whether to include a left-turn lane along the longer blocks south of Maple isn't necessary for the grant application.
"We are a long way to making the final decision on what this will be," O'Meara told commissioners.
City Commissioner Mark Nickita, who served on the advisory committee, noted that the upcoming planning stages for the South Old Woodward project will be very important.
"Surely this is the most important two to three blocks of our city," Nickita said. "It's a very, very important project, involves a lot of people (and) involves the gem of our city downtown."
O'Meara said if Birmingham receives funding for this project for 2016, he will immediately being applying for funding for the most southern portion of Old Woodward, from Brown south to Lincoln.