MDOT plays key role helping city share information on corridor changes

Travelers interested in knowing more about getting around in Midland in 2023 and beyond, no matter what transportation mode one uses, will have all winter to learn about the next step in the Buttles/Indian Corridor Improvement Project before a public meeting tentatively occurs next spring.

At that meeting, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is expected to select the final plan for making Buttles Street a two-lane street with improvements for those seeking safer access to downtown, says the City’s Communications Coordinator, Katie Guyer. 

The $33.5 million plan will rebuild nearly 2 miles of US-10 BR and M-20.

In July 2022, MDOT hosted the first open house for the public at Midland City Hall . Preliminary plans, timelines and traffic control measures during construction of the corridor improvements were presented to residents as authorized by Midland City Council in 2021.

It also was when a resolution to support the redesign of the Buttles Street corridor from Jerome Street/M-20 to State Street from three lanes to two took place. This action followed an 18-month trial study from May 2018 - December 2019 conducted by the MDOT, called the ‘road diet,’ that temporarily narrowed Buttles from three lanes to two for traffic.

The resolution gave authority for city staff in conjunction with MDOT to look into different plans that will make Midland more receptive to the changing population. The $33.5 million plan will rebuild nearly 2 miles of US-10 BR and M-20. The goals are to help slow traffic down, enhance economic activity, improve the safety of all types of mobility, and increase people moving from all residential areas to business districts.

Jack Hofweber, Mt. Pleasant Transportation Services Center manager, hosted the event and is the MDOT contact for ideas from the public. To that end, City of Midland staff working with MDOT have created what  Guyer has called a “conversation” with people to explain the ”back story” of the construction, as well as acknowledging that a change this large has an outsized emotional toll on residents.

“It is critical that the City and the City Council staff present the facts, and the data, as well as the reason why change is being done objectively,” she says. Guyer adds that a city has to look at updating its amenities from time to time, just as a homeowner has to keep a house updated to serve changes in a family. “A city changes over time, just as a family does and no one expects not to make changes,” Guyer says. 

But the “conversation” can help to explain how the city arrives at a plan with input from residents, the state, city and other shareholders, recognizing there is more than one way for people to be mobile.
The project is expected to be completed in 2025.
There are many avenues to learn about how the ideas were turned into a vision, Guyer says. At https://www.cityofmidlandmi.gov/corridors, the history of the city’s corridor decision making is broken down, and it brings interested parties up to date with what has taken place the past five years, including the logic behind which ideas have been accepted, and reasons why some have not.

There are links to what is now occurring since the first public meeting July 20, 2022 and what will occur in the spring when a second public hearing takes place to review the site plan going forward.

A link enables people at home to review the information. And, if there are questions, a link to the city’s Podcasts, “Word on the STREET(s)”, provides an explanation with the people closest to topics, Guyer says.

Hosting the programs are Guyer and city staffers, with special guests including city staff, road design experts, and more. Topics will include recent updates on the projects' progress, public input opportunities, and discussions of the design and vision for the corridor moving forward.
 The Word on the Street(s) podcast, hosted by Katie Guyer, is released on the third Thursday of every month on all platforms where podcasts can be found. A video recording is also available on YouTube.
The podcast is released on the third Thursday of every month on the City's YouTube channel and as an audio-only podcast on most preferred podcast platforms. Video replays are also available on MGTV-188 (Charter) and 99 (Uverse) and available on-demand on the Roku and Apple TV streaming apps. Additional special episodes may be released as the project progresses.

According to the timeline, plans are scheduled to be worked on through 2024 and the entire project is expected to be completed in 2025.



 

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 ralphewirtz@gmail.com.