Buttles & Indian Corridor Improvement Project moves into design phase

The Indian and Buttles Corridor is on its way to getting modernized.


The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) will lead the design process, working with a consulting team to start mapping and designing what the roads will look like in the future. Last month, The City Council voted 3-2 to move the Buttles & Indian Corridor Improvement Project into this phase.


The major proposed change is to reduce Buttles Street down from a three-lane road to two-lanes. That will likely look like expanded sidewalks for non-motorized transportation and new turn lanes at specific intersections — for example, at Buttles and Conkright toward downtown.
By redesigning this Corridor, the City hopes to attract new investments that are typical to downtown areas, creating more opportunities for people to live, work, dine, shop, and socialize.

There will not be a Council decision on Indian Street, however, designs will be drawn up by MDOT for both Buttles and Indian simultaneously. MDOT determined that Indian doesn’t lend itself to a concrete decision between three-lanes and two-lanes, so it’s likely that any improvement suggestions will keep Indian primarily at three-lanes.


The public will have two opportunities to provide input on the designs which will be communicated as they arise. The design phase will take upwards of a year to complete, with construction starting as soon as 2024.


It’s undecided if any construction on Indian would occur within the same timeframe as Buttles. Because Indian and Buttles are a one-way pair, there may be possibilities for joint funding. Once designs are drawn up, they will be “shelved” until funding for construction becomes available. At that time, MDOT and the city will discuss how and who will fund the project.


City launches Word on the Street(s) podcast


To keep the public informed, Director of Planning and Community Development Grant Murschel and Communications Coordinator Katie Guyer are co-hosting a new podcast, Word on the Street(s).


“It’s intended to really provide a conversational way to be able to describe exactly what’s going on and where the process is at currently,” says Murschel.
The Word on the Street(s) podcast, co-hosted by Grant Murschel and Katie Guyer, will be released on the third Thursday of every month on all platforms where podcasts can be found. A video recording will be available on YouTube as well.

Murschel and Guyer will share input opportunities and design updates, combat misinformation, and interview subject matter experts, including city staff, emergency service staff, and hopefully MDOT.


The podcast can be found on most podcasts platforms and video recordings will also be posted to the City’s YouTube channel. Each episode will be released on the third Thursday of every month. The first episode was released on Feb. 18, and so the next will be available March 18.


A “fresh and modern perspective” for downtown


Since MDOT hadn’t studied Indian and Buttles in decades, the area was long overdue for a reevaluation — done regularly throughout Michigan’s major roadways. While MDOT maintains these roads, they didn’t want to make changes without the local jurisdiction weighing in. As a result, City Council meetings were held and the 2015 traffic study began.

“It’s an integral part of the broader transportation system in the region … so that makes it the right kind of candidate for a study like this,” says Murschel. “... The need to look at this corridor through a fresh and modern perspective has always been there.”


Grant Murschel is the Director of Planning and Community Development for the City of Midland.From the city’s standpoint, there is a “keen interest” in making the downtown area the best it can be by attracting investment.


“Up until maybe 10, 15 years ago, we had tremendous investment flight out of downtown. There’s always been efforts to try and change that. … By being able to drive as quickly as you can and as unfettered as you can through this corridor through downtown, that is very, very convenient for drivers [but] it is very detrimental to the possibility of the surrounding blocks when it comes to new investment.”


The City hopes to attract new investments that are typical to downtown areas, creating more opportunities for people to live, work, dine, shop, and socialize.


“You really can’t coexist a fast highway right next to those types of opportunities,” says Murschel.


To follow design and construction updates, tune in to the Word on the Street(s) podcast or watch the video recordings. More information on the project’s history can be found on the Indian & Buttles Street Corridor Study page on the City of Midland’s website.

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Read more articles by Crystal Gwizdala.

Crystal Gwizdala is a freelance writer with a focus on health and science. As a lifelong resident of the Tri-Cities, she loves sharing how our communities are overcoming challenges. Crystal is also a serial hobbyist — her interests range from hiking or drawing to figuring out how to do a handstand. Her work can be seen in Wide Open Eats, The Xylom, Woman & Home, and The Detroit Free Press. To see what Crystal’s up to, you can follow her on Twitter @CrystalGwizdala.