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May 1, 2013

State’s TAP grant to put Livernois on ‘road diet’

By Joshua Gordon
C & G Staff Writer

FERNDALE — The city of Ferndale was awarded the Transportation Alternatives Program grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation in January to implement a redesign of Livernois Avenue from Eight Mile Road to Nine Mile Road.

The grant, which comes in coordination with the Southeastern Michigan Council of Governments, will be in the amount of $118,092 and used to put Livernois on what Derek Delacourt, Ferndale Community and Economic Development director, called a “road diet.”

Plans will call for the now four-lane avenue to be cut down to one lane going in each direction with the outside lanes being transformed into on-street parking and bicycle lanes. The city will contribute 30 percent of the funds for the project, or about $50,000, which will also include bicycle parking and mid-block crossings. The project could start in 2014.

“Because of increased development along the corridor, our intent with this project is to make things safer for business owners and customers,” Delacourt said. “What used to be a standard business zone has become a mixed zone, and there is a lack of off-street parking, so cars are parking in travel lanes, which is dangerous.

“There are very low volumes of travel for how wide the road is, so we want to go with a different configuration so the road is equitable to all transportation users.”

Delacourt said 95 percent of the work will be patching and painting by restriping the road to allow for multiple modes of transportation and parking. Some curb repair may need to be done, but at this point, it is not considered a major construction project.

In total, the project will call for between 75 and 100 on-street parking spots between West Marshall Street and Eight Mile. The bike lanes will extend past Eight Mile to allow easy access to Detroit and vice versa.

“Ferndale encourages nonmotorized transportation, and we don’t want to dump people off in Detroit with no place to go,” Delacourt said. “Detroit is going to pick up on their half and carry the nonmotorized improvements south into Seven Mile and the Six Mile area.

“We want residents of Ferndale to travel south to Detroit, and we want residents of Detroit to travel to our city on bikes or (by walking), if they so desire. This is a great opportunity to do that, and the city of Detroit is supportive of it.”

The Livernois corridor currently has no on-street parking, making it difficult for customers to reach businesses when they need to only visit for a short period of time.

Siouxsan Miller, co-owner of Green Daffodil Studio, 624 Livernois, said the current system causes many of her customers to be unable to park in front of the store, and it creates dangerous circumstances if they do.

“Parking is very difficult in our section, and with the parking lanes still travel lanes, it is very dangerous, especially at nighttime,” Miller said. “On any given date, we never have customers parking in front of our business. Things are changing on Livernois, with more businesses opening where you can stop in, purchase something and leave.

“The area is changing, so we need changes to keep up with what is happening in the area. I’m happy the city is recognizing that.”

Delacourt said the city plans to get all the documentation and plans to MDOT by the end of May and have final approval on city funds from City Council by September. If everything goes through as planned, the project will begin in the spring of 2014.

While there are plans to work on Nine Mile to Livernois and make it look more like the rest of the downtown area, Delacourt said the project planned for Livernois is not a downtown project.

“We will look at different things as we go, but we are not recreating downtown,” he said. “What we are doing is adjusting roads to be more equitable to all users, but not including trees or benches or those types of amenities. We may consider going back for another grant for aesthetic improvements later.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Joshua Gordon at jgordon@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1077.