The city of Pleasant Ridge installed traffic-calming projects at three intersections on Woodward Heights, including this one at Bermuda Avenue where it also removed a stop sign.

The city of Pleasant Ridge installed traffic-calming projects at three intersections on Woodward Heights, including this one at Bermuda Avenue where it also removed a stop sign.

Photo by Mike Koury

Pleasant Ridge testing traffic-calming projects on Woodward Heights

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published July 27, 2020


PLEASANT RIDGE — For the next several weeks, Pleasant Ridge will be testing traffic-calming projects on Woodward Heights.

On July 22, the city installed traffic-calming projects at three intersections on Woodward Heights: one at Bermuda Avenue, another at Indiana Avenue and the last one at the alley near Woodward Avenue.

The Bermuda and Indiana projects both have corner bump-outs to narrow the road and shorten the pedestrian crossing. The project at the alley was described by the city as a “pinch point to narrow the street and cause drivers to slow down,” as well as signal drivers that they’re entering a residential area.

“Basically it does create (a) narrowing of the street at certain points and it just forces drivers to slow down and pay attention,” said City Manager James Breuckman. “It’s a pretty standard traffic-calming practice. We’re also trying to make intersections a little bit safer.”

Breuckman noted that one of the controversial things they did was remove a stop sign at Woodward Heights and Bermuda. In a Facebook post asking residents their thoughts on the projects, some pointed at the stop sign removal as a negative.

Nathan Schoenfeld called the projects a “nice idea in theory,” but felt the stop sign should be put back up, saying it would add to the ability to slow traffic.

One resident, Katherine Brom, felt like it was a distraction and preferred the stop sign. Linda Nelson Hypio stated that she has lived on Woodward Heights since 1980 and that it has always been hard for her to back out of her garage onto the street when it was busy.

“(I) am willing to see how this all turns out, but (I’m) concerned that the lack of stop signs is going to make it a bit more dangerous for the residents once drivers realize the stop signs are gone. I still stop at each corner,” she posted.

Another resident, Fred McCoy, stated that he liked what the city is trying. Kevin McCoy felt, as many of the people commenting weren’t experts in street design and how signage affects driving behavior, that they should take a wait-and-see approach on how the projects work out.

“Always fine to express opinions. And of course, even informed experts may disagree on the best approach. But consider putting at least a little bit of faith in the experts the city hired to help implement traffic calming measures,” he said.

Breuckman called removing the sign “kind of a paradox,” but said the city had a traffic engineer study that intersection and it didn’t meet any of the requirements to have a stop sign.

“We’re testing it at this point to make sure that intersection is functioning safely, and that’s part of the reason why we did the narrowing at the intersection to force cars to slow down a little bit and pay attention so that pedestrians waiting across the street have a shorter crossing as well,” he said.

As the traffic patterns at Indiana and Woodward Heights are different than at Bermuda and Woodward Heights, Breuckman further stated that the stop sign at Indiana was kept in place.

Pleasant Ridge’s plan is to keep the traffic calming projects going for four to six weeks. At the end of the period, the city will make a decision on what to do at each intersection moving forward.

 Breuckman said that everything would be on the table.

“It could just go back to how it all was before,” he said. “If we find that the test projects make things worse, then we’ll go back to how it was. If we find that some of them worked and some of them didn’t, then we can look at ways of removing the ones that didn’t work and figuring out a way of making the ones that did work permanent. The test projects as they are right now with the materials, that won’t stay. We’d have to do … the same design but in a more permanent way. We’ll have to look and see what works, what doesn’t work and then get — obviously — resident input, and then the City Commission and staff will confer with the residents and figure out what we’re going to do.”