Changing one-way streets to two-way?

Change is hard, particularly when it comes to something ingrained in a person’s mind, such as traffic patterns. 

But Midland residents will have more than one way to express their opinions on whether Ashman and Rodd streets should once again become two-way streets when city staff host a series of open houses beginning Tuesday, April 18 and through an on-line survey active in May.

One-way traffic on Rodd Street currently takes traffic out of downtown.Along the way, residents have this unique opportunity to analyze the future of downtown Midland’s street network as it navigates discussions on modernizing the way it thinks about traffic flow, its relationship with pedestrians, the moderation of motorized traffic throughout the city and the availability of more residential units in the downtown area, say those who have been working with Midland street renewal for the past six years.

Sessions will take place on the following dates: 
  • Tues, April 18 & Wed, April 19: 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. and 5 – 7 p.m. at the Midland Law Enforcement Center, 2727 Rodd Street
  • Thursday, April 20:  2– 4 p.m. at the Northwood Idea Center, 102 E. Main Street. 
An online survey will be offered in early May on the City’s public engagement platform, E-CityHall, that will gather input on topics similar to those addressed at the open houses. To sign up for updates when the survey is open, visit
Rodd Street travels from downtown to Midland's Center City.
According to a city announcement, at each open house, attendees can view sample design renderings, share their input, ask questions about impacts to their daily lives and City services, and learn more about transition plans - if a conversion were to be implemented. Staff will also be on-hand to discuss how two-way streets provide potential positive impacts to economic development, traffic flow, and safety for both motorists and pedestrians.  Planners believe its cost to be approximately $3.7 million.

Potential conversion of Ashman and Rodd Streets to two-way vehicle traffic is being explored in conjunction with the Buttles Street Corridor Improvement Project and Phase II of the Saginaw Road Streetscape Redevelopment Project, completion of which is expected in 2025. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) corridor plan will make both Buttles and Indian streets two-lane motorized routes through downtown and will affect the configuration of both Ashman and Rodd streets where they meet. If the concept is approved, it already has received approval from the Midland Downtown Development Authority, it will return Ashman and Rodd Streets to their roots in the early 20th Century as two-way streets.

Ashman Street brings traffic through Midtown and into downtown Midland.
When first designed, Ashman and Rodd Streets were both two-way streets, essentially streets like State, Mill, George and Haley, for example, that cut through neighborhoods. They functioned that way until the late 1960s. Then, and as traffic increased, Midland joined many communities nationwide that went to one-way streets as the best way to move traffic as quickly as possible from one place (usually, into or out of the city's downtown or major center) to another. Now, though, many cities realize the potential issues associated with this approach: Fewer economic development opportunities, higher vehicle speeds, reduced navigability, and lower safety ratings for pedestrians.
Thousands of vehicles travel Ashman and Rodd Streets each day.
In its 2022 podcast “Word on the Street” Season 2, program 1, Katie Guyer, communications coordinator for the City of Midland and Grant Murschel, the now former Director of Planning and Development, discussed at length for the first time, the reasons why the city is moving toward more pedestrian and non-motorized traffic viability -  called “walkable urban environments,” the contest in which downtown has been discussed.

In addition, as part of the city master plan called City Modern, local officials need to discuss Ashman and Rodd’s future in conjunction with the other projects expected during the next few years.  For more information on the potential conversion project on Ashman and Rodd, visit, or

Guyer, originally from Kokomo, Ind., joined Midland city in 2016,  about the same time that her native city was changing from one-way thoroughfares to two-way streets. She saw that change become successful. The Midland city website cites other municipalities’ success stories. “It has the same potential for Midland as well,” says Guyer. Local civil engineering firm OHM Advisors are working with the city on the project. 

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Read more articles by Ralph E. Wirtz.

Ralph E. Wirtz is a native Midlander who retired from the Midland Daily News as a managing editor in 2015. He has been freelancing since then in between traveling and volunteering. He has four adult children, all who graduated from Bullock Creek High School as he did. He is an eight-year veteran of the U.S. Navy and a Central Michigan University grad. He can be reached at