City Manager Matt Baumgarten presented a six-month update on the city of Berkley’s road diet, which reduced Coolidge Highway’s lanes from four to two with a continuous left turn lane, bike lanes and more parking spaces. The pilot project is scheduled to continue for another 18 months.

City Manager Matt Baumgarten presented a six-month update on the city of Berkley’s road diet, which reduced Coolidge Highway’s lanes from four to two with a continuous left turn lane, bike lanes and more parking spaces. The pilot project is scheduled to continue for another 18 months.

File photo by Mike Koury

Berkley council receives update on Coolidge Highway road diet

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published December 10, 2019


BERKLEY — Earlier this year, Berkley underwent a road diet on Coolidge Highway that is designed to be a two-year pilot project.

At its Dec. 2 meeting, the City Council heard a six-month update from City Manager Matt Baumgarten on the data and feedback that had been collected by the Transportation Improvement Authority and from residents and groups in Berkley.

The road diet started May 13 and saw Coolidge Highway restriped from four lanes to two lanes, with a continuous left turn lane from 11 Mile to 12 Mile roads, as well as increased on-street parking and the addition of bike lanes. The restriping was completed June 4.

According to the city, baseline measurements were taken prior to the study along Coolidge Highway and along neighborhood streets in March to collect the average daily traffic, peak hour traffic and speeds of vehicles traveling on the roads.

As the sixth month of the pilot approached, the TIA remeasured critical data points in September and October in the areas of streets that run parallel to Coolidge, and Coolidge itself. The other streets included Kipling Avenue, Kenmore Road, Beverly Boulevard and Berkley Avenue.

The data collected can be viewed on the city of Berkley’s website.

Baumgarten said one of the biggest changes was along Kipling, where they observed an increase in traffic volumes. South of Catalpa Drive, the road saw increases from 322 to 376 vehicles going northbound and 506 to 601 vehicles going southbound.

“Now, studies we’ve seen so far, they’re within what we talked about as acceptable parameters, but (it) is something that we’re going to be incredibly cognizant of,” he said.

Coolidge was remeasured between Nov. 18 and 20 for its traffic volume counts. Average daily traffic increased on Coolidge south of Catalpa and decreased north of Catalpa — both around 4%.

“It does appear that Coolidge as a whole corridor is still carrying pretty close to being the same amount,” Baumgarten said. “The differential is less than a single percentage.”

The peak-hour traffic measured the highest number of vehicles that traveled a street. The peak hour varied by location.

“You may have a fairly acceptable average on any one of these streets, but if it’s heavily concentrated in a single period, we wanted to know that,” he said.

Kipling south of Catalpa saw the greatest increase at its peak hour, going from its baseline of 105 vehicles to 168 in six months. Other streets — such as Kenmore north of Catalpa and Berkley both north and south of Catalpa — had increases, as well.

Kipling north of Catalpa had no change in its traffic, and Beverly west of Coolidge had a minor decrease.

The speeds of vehicles measured by TIA changed very little, according to the city, with the average speeds being between 22 and 25 miles per hour for all recorded areas. With most residential streets at about 30 mph, Baumgarten said the average driver is traveling 6-7 mph lower than that.

The Berkley Public Safety Department analyzed crash data along Coolidge and the circumstances that led to each crash. Comparisons were made to the same period in 2018, and while there were some changes in the numbers regarding the types of crashes that occurred, the total crashes were even at 24 each year.

Some types of crashes were different, such as an increase in rear-end crashes and a decrease in sideswipe crashes. There was an increase in injuries reported from crashes from five to seven, but there also was a decrease in people transported by ambulance to the hospital from four to one.

“We’re encouraged by this,” Baumgarten said of the crash data. “We had hoped to see more of a … decrease in the number of traffic accidents, but it’s also quite possible — looking at previous trends — that just being able to stabilize it and not see that grow year over year is, in itself, a positive movement.”

Some additional data gathered by Berkley included a call to install a left-turn signal at Catalpa off Coolidge, making adjustments to the timing of lights within the corridor, including at Harvard Road and 11 Mile, to accommodate the flow of traffic and the amount of time to travel between 11 Mile and 12 Mile. Baumgarten said that data is still being analyzed.

Resident Kurt Hite felt the numbers were not accurately compared between peak traffic and traffic averages in regard to the data from the city’s volume traffic counts.

“We need to decide, are we averaging the data or are we comparing in peak-to-peak or peak-to-average,” he said. “You got to be consistent. You can’t pick and choose what data you’re going to show. I believe that you got to show average data because it rules out when you have a spike that you can’t account for.”

Baumgarten said the city tries to do what Hite said in its data collection.

“We’re using peak. We’re calling out peak,” he said. “The volumes, we endeavor to do just what you’re saying, so (we) make sure that we have comparable numbers between the two, discounting days when school’s not in, discounting weekends.”

Baumgarten said he’d be happy to go over the data more in depth with Hite.

There will be an informational meeting about the road diet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 19, at the Public Safety Department, where residents will be able to get more information and ask questions about the six-month update.