Project on 14 Mile Road intends to promote downtown walkability

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published May 6, 2015

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CLAWSON — A nearly $500,000 construction project is underway on 14 Mile Road to enhance the city’s profile as a walkable community.

The Clawson Downtown Development Authority Pedestrian Crossing Improvements Project involves creating two pedestrian crossing islands on East 14 Mile Road and one on West 14 Mile Road near Main Street.

“The pedestrian islands will allow safe passage across a major street and increase the walkability,” said Mayor Penny Luebs.

Construction began in late April and is scheduled to last through July 3. Work will take place from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

City officials said there will be intermittent closures of the left through-traffic lanes during construction. The center turn lanes will be marked off with cones and will be temporarily reduced or blocked during construction. Driveways to businesses will not be closed, but left turn access may be impacted.

Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Joan Horton said the improved walkability will encourage and allow for a better pedestrian experience, increased  safety and an improved economic outlook for the downtown. City officials said the islands will have a traffic-calming effect.

The city of Clawson received a $267,000 grant last year to apply toward the $485,000 project. The money was issued through the Michigan Department of Transportation-Transportation Alternatives Grant Program and approved by the City Council in July 2014. The remaining project cost will be split between the Downtown Development Authority and the city of Clawson, as the East 14 Mile Road islands are within the authority and the West 14 Mile Road location is not. All authority funds, by law, must be spent within the district.

Horton said the 14 Mile crossing improvements are the first phase of the project. The plan calls for additional bike and pedestrian improvements: Main Street crossings, which would not include islands; an additional island on West 14 Mile Road between the Washington crossing and Main Street; and dedicated bike parking locations in the four municipal parking lots.

“Study after study has shown that people want liveable communities, which are defined, in part, by their walkability,” Horton said. “More young adults are choosing not to drive. Young families want a community where they can walk with the kids, and older adults are looking to age in place.”

Horton said that those wants translate to having a downtown that is a lively gathering place — one that attracts visitors and serves the needs of the community for dining, shopping and entertainment.

“At present, our downtown is a destination spot,” Horton said. “Customers are drawn to a certain destination and, once finished at that location, they often leave.

“Our goal is to encourage exploration to surrounding destinations.”

Horton said the Downtown Development Authority Pedestrian Crossing Improvements Project began with the support of Main Street Oakland County. The authority received the money from the National Main Street Center to hire the Greenway Collaborative for the planning, which included public meetings, surveys and conceptual plans. The authority submitted the grant application.

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