Coolidge Highway between 11 Mile and 12 Mile roads has received new lane configurations after a one-month delay. The restriping reduced the number of lanes from four to two with a new middle left-turn lane.

Coolidge Highway between 11 Mile and 12 Mile roads has received new lane configurations after a one-month delay. The restriping reduced the number of lanes from four to two with a new middle left-turn lane.

Photo by Mike Koury

Berkley drivers learning to navigate Coolidge Highway’s redesign

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published May 28, 2019


BERKLEY — Coolidge Highway recently underwent a major makeover in which the lane markers between 11 Mile and 12 Mile roads were restriped.

The roadway now has one lane each for northbound and southbound traffic, with a permanent middle lane for left turns. There also is a bike lane and increased space for parking on the street.

Change always is a challenge to accept, as Huntington Woods resident Dan Kramer put it.

Kramer, a resident of Berkley’s neighboring city since 1982, felt that way about the Coolidge Highway road diet, but he will try to accept it even though he feels it will create a backlog in traffic.

“My experience with the road diet is (that with) anything new, we all have trouble with it for a while, and it may settle in and we may get used to it, or it may force travel off Coolidge,” he said.

Kramer added that he doesn’t know if anyone knew what the full impact of the lane changes would be, as he feels the backups on Coolidge from 7:30 to 9 a.m. and from 4 to 6 p.m. have been worse.

“I’ve been involved in some backups, and we’ve decided to forsake Coolidge until this thing gets digested or people learn how to use it or take other routes,” he said.

Kramer feels like nobody was told what to expect or what the rules were for the drivers, as well as bicyclists, when it came to the newly painted bike lanes — rules like what a vehicle should do when it needs to make a right turn and cross the bike lane.

Berkley Public Safety Director Matt Koehn said the big theme of the new lanes is safety, and that everybody is responsible for what they do.

“People need to really pay attention,” he said. “This goes everywhere, every time. It’s not just on Coolidge. It’s not just because of the new reconfiguration. You really need to pay attention. If everybody’s looking, then it makes it better for everyone. That includes pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing; you really have to have your head on a swivel. And people make mistakes, but mistakes like this can have pretty big consequences.”

Koehn said he understands the delays are something that people will have to get used to, but as he has seen in his career, a road diet is something that a city tries to make as smooth as it can, but it never is perfect.

“You can plan all you want. You can do all the preplanning, you can do everything right, but it’s a change and people are used to doing the same thing, and when you change it, that’s when problems can occur,” he said. “For me, the biggest thing is people being considerate of each other and having some patience. As a Public Safety Department, it doesn’t matter what the road configuration is — people need to obey the laws. They can’t speed. They can’t go through stop signs. It all comes down to consideration.”

As for making a right turn with the bike lane now on Coolidge, Koehn said that if the light is green and a bike is going straight, the bike would have the right of way because it is already in the lane.

“Now, if the light’s red, the car can go into that lane to turn right. That’s the way the intersection’s designed. So the bike is expected to follow traffic laws too. That bike needs to stop and let that car turn right,” he said.

If the city of Berkley doesn’t get its desired results with the road diet, officials have said that they would consider reversing the lane configuration to its original design.

Kramer said he’s not sure how this will all look in a year, as it’s too early to tell, but it will depend on if traffic will be able to get through and not be as congested. He also wants to see if the number of accidents and collisions will decrease, as the city hopes.

“If there’s a significant reduction in injury accidents, then it’s a good thing because even if it takes me longer, you don’t want to see anyone ever injured in a traffic crash,” he said. “If it’s safer and it’s less convenient, we’ll get used to it.”