With road diet tabled, Pleasant Ridge focused on other Woodward project

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published October 5, 2021


PLEASANT RIDGE — Recently, the city of Ferndale made moves on a road diet project on Woodward Avenue to remove a lane on each side of the road and replace the lanes with bike lanes and on-street parking.Pleasant Ridge originally planned to have a role in the project as well, with the lane reductions and other road diet elements from Ferndale stretching into the neighboring city.

For the time being, Pleasant Ridge’s portion of Woodward Avenue will not be a part of the road diet. This is because the Michigan Department of Transportation evaluated the project and determined the Interstate 696 underpass and Eight Mile Road bridge were “significant design hurdles,” city documents state, and they would not approve a reduction in travel lanes because of the design issues related to the underpass.

“It’s where the underpass and surface Woodward merge,” City Manager James Breuckman said. “Because of that merging and separating movement — and depending on where they’re going southbound or northbound — MDOT won’t approve the reduction of lanes because they believe those lanes are necessary for drivers to make the merging and separating movements.”

Breuckman further commented that they’re working on some options and that there would be a small gap on both northbound and southbound sides of Woodward because of the issue, but stated Pleasant Ridge is working on maximizing the protected cycling lanes on southbound Woodward.

“We’ll use some on-street lanes north of Oakland Park, we’ll use our parks, but we’re still gonna do that,” he said. “We’re just waiting on a decision from MDOT, and once we get into design, we’ll figure out what the final layout of that is going to be.”

Pleasant Ridge City Commissioner Bret Scott added that the city had to “largely” eliminate its portion of the road diet so Ferndale could continue with its portion, and that was something they supported in the long run.

“We were more than comfortable with that proposal because it at least allows the Ferndale portion to be approved now,” he said. “It will give the state of Michigan time to understand how traffic narrows into three lanes from 696 and Woodward north of 696, and then revisit it later.”

While the road diet will be postponed in Pleasant Ridge for now, the city is moving forward with another project on Woodward: a two-way cycle track that will be installed on the northbound side from Sylvan Avenue up to North Main Street near I-696. It will be partially funded through a Transportation Alternatives Program grant. There also will be a streetscape project to redo the Woodward streetscape and stormwater infiltration on the east side that’s being funded by a grant from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, or EGLE.

Breuckman stated in an email the project is about $1.5 million in total, with Pleasant Ridge receiving about $1 million in EGLE stormwater management and TAP grant funding. The TAP grant is about $400,000 with a $100,000 city match, and the EGLE grant is $600,000 with a $400,000 local match.

“This will have a higher level of design than what would be implemented as part of the road diet because we are actually redoing the entire streetscape so we can kind of build that cycle track in its final condition rather than a temporary interim condition,” Breuckman said.  “We’re excited about that. We think it’s going to be a good first project to highlight on Woodward, a good demonstration project for what we can do elsewhere.”