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 Coolidge Highway between 11 Mile and 12 Mile roads will be restriped from four lanes to two with a middle left turn lane, bike lanes and additional parking. The city is aiming for May to begin the project.

Coolidge Highway between 11 Mile and 12 Mile roads will be restriped from four lanes to two with a middle left turn lane, bike lanes and additional parking. The city is aiming for May to begin the project.

Photo by Mike Koury

Coolidge Highway to undergo major lane restriping

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published January 15, 2019

BERKLEY — Coolidge Highway is on its way to seeing a major change in a few months.

The Berkley City Council unanimously passed a resolution at its Jan. 7 meeting supporting an evaluation for a lane reduction on the major roadway, from four lanes to two with a middle left-turn lane, bike lanes and additional parking, between 11 Mile and 12 Mile roads.

The city hopes the lane change will allow for “appropriate traffic flow, better emergency vehicle movement, fewer traffic accidents, increased economic development and business growth, and increased pedestrian and bicycle friendliness and safety,” according to the resolution.

The topic previously was discussed at the Dec. 17 council meeting, but a decision was postponed after a long conversation. The City Council and residents who spoke up at the meeting wanted to see a more “robust” version of the resolution, including a communications plan and an evaluation matrix to describe what and how the lane change would be measured. At the Jan. 7 meeting, the council responded positively to the updated resolution.

According to the resolution, the city and the Downtown Development Authority will undertake a 24-month comprehensive evaluation, which includes a 12-month review of road safety performance. During the council’s review at the 12-month window, if it’s agreed that the lane reconfiguration is not performing as expected, the council will vote on if it wants to revert Coolidge Highway to its original four lanes.

“At 12 months, we’d like to make a recommendation to City Council based on the traffic safety portion of this, as indicated by the council, and then if council sees fit, we would then progress for another 12 months to complete a 24-month evaluation of this project,” City Manager Matt Baumgarten said.

Resident Charles Tyrrell said the council didn’t come back with specific measurable objective criteria.

“There are no objective criteria being used. It’s not measurable. It is all subjective. So I think that while this is much more robust than what they presented a month ago, it’s an abject failure on what the council asked the DDA to return to them. As such, I’d say right now, let’s just forget about this. Let’s kill it while we can,” he said.

Andrew Agbay, a business owner on Coolidge and a member of the DDA, said business owners on Coolidge support the measure and that, when parking expanded on 12 Mile Road, it benefited that street and its businesses. He also said the change will be more “pedestrian friendly.”

“I love the idea of a bike lane. Regardless of a bike lane or not, you’ve got to look out for bikes,” Agbay said.

“I don’t think these opportunities come by that often,” he said of changing the roadway.

Mayor Dan Terbrack said that his biggest concern is how the city will know if it’s bringing about desired changes or not.

“That is the biggest question mark I still have,” he said. “That’s what I need to be comfortable with. Again, that’s not necessarily what we’re just talking about this evening, but that is something I want to have a lot more information on, and if that’s a council decision and we decide what it is, then we’ll decide what it is. But we’re going to need to know that to know if at six months, 12 months, we’re having the impact that we want.”

Mayor Pro Tem Steve Baker said there’s plenty of time and steps ahead for the city to evaluate the program.

“There’s several checkpoints ahead of us where if we found something to be flagrantly off or so concerning … there’s several steps where we can intervene as appropriate,” he said. “But directionally, this feels to be quite comprehensive. I do look forward to having more robust definitions behind each of these metrics.

“I’m satisfied that this is directionally correct and robust enough that we can have confidence in moving forward, knowing that if, through the funding mechanisms or otherwise, if we feel this is in jeopardy of harming the community, then we can certainly take an alternate action,” Baker said.

Baumgarten said the project still has to go out to bid to a contractor, but the city is targeting May to restripe Coolidge.