Woodward Ave Complete Streets project called largest in the nation

A plan to turn a busy 27-mile, automobile-loving stretch of Woodward Avenue into a road that's safe and welcoming for all forms of transportation is rolling along with a series of public planning events to begin soon.

The changes -- part of the Complete Streets approach that's happening in cities around Michigan and across the country -- would move Woodward away from a wide-swath of auto-centered roadway to one that's inviting and safe for bicyclists, pedestrians, disabled users, bus riders -- and, if it comes to pass, light rail passengers.

The Woodward Avenue Action Association, WA3, is heading up the effort in partnership with Parsons Brinckerhoff. Working with them are reps and policy makers from 11 Wayne and Oakland county municipalities that have Woodward running through them. The Michigan Department of Transportation, M1 Rail, and the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments are also part of the project that's been in the works since August 2011 and has $752,000 in federal funding to work with.

The next step is to host five interactive public events, a design charrette, in several of the Woodward-connected communities. From those meetings could come a master plan that will determine what changes and updates are needed to accommodate public transit, pedestrians, bicyclists and, ideally, economic development.

“We want to create a street that truly works for everyone. Imagine a corridor that accommodates people of all ages and abilities, including pedestrians, bicyclists, seniors, mobility-challenged individuals, transit riders and motorists,” says Jason Fowler, WA3 and Woodward Complete Streets program manager. “By engaging the residents and businesses along the corridor, as well as industry experts in this visioning process, we can develop a wide variety of innovative solutions and create a successful master plan.”

The first meetings, a three-day event, will focus on north Woodward in Detroit from McNichols to 8 Mile and Ferndale and be held at St. James Catholic Church, 241 Pearson Street in Ferndale, April 17-19.

During the meetings in Ferndale, Dan Burden, a walkability expert from the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, will present a walking audit of Woodward and explain what lies ahead for a re-design he says "could be the single largest Complete Streets planning effort ever undertaken in North America.”

Other meetings will be held in Birmingham/Bloomfield Hills, May 20-22; in Bloomfield Township/Pontiac, June 3-5; Pleasant Ridge through Berkley, June 10-12; and in downtown Detroit/Highland Park, June 17-19.

Click on www.transformwoodward.com for exact locations, times and topics to be discussed.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Lori Ella Miller, spokesperson, Woodward Avenue Action Association
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