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The US-10 Business Route (BR) Corridor Study was commissioned by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). This study included a corridor-wide data collection effort, review of traffic data, development of a traffic model and development of alternatives which met the project purpose. The study was supported by the City of Midland.
The study of the US 10 Business Route Corridor, including Indian and Buttles streets, was initiated by MDOT with the support of the City of Midland. Several community stakeholders were invited to participate as part of a stakeholders’ group during the study, but they did not initiate either the 2015 study or the road diet trial now underway.
The US 10 Business Route Corridor Study conducted in 2015 was initiated by the Michigan Department of Transportation with the support of the City of Midland. It was not initiated by any other organization or stakeholder. At an early meeting between MDOT and the City in June 2015, several stakeholders whose input would be sought were identified. The stakeholders identified at that meeting included the following, in addition to the City of Midland and MDOT personnel:
Both MDOT and the City of Midland have been taking a slow, measured approach to testing the feasibility of a 2 lane street along Buttles Street from Jerome Street to State Street. The first step, following presentation of the Corridor Study by MDOT to City Council in March of 2017, was a three day temporary lane reduction from August 28-30, 2017 to assess the impact of reduced lanes in this corridor. Following a public open house that was held by MDOT on September 13, 2017, concerns were expressed about the timing and duration of the first temporary lane reduction. A second temporary lane reduction was therefore implemented from November 6-13, 2017.
Using information obtained from the two temporary lane reductions, MDOT presented the final report and recommendations to City Council on December 18, 2017. City Council supported in principle the preferred option of reducing Buttles Street to 2 lanes. The road diet trial now underway is testing on a larger and more complete scale the report findings and the ability of the corridor to handle the traffic that travels through this corridor regularly. The longer trial allows all anticipated travel volumes and conditions to be assessed. The trial will last until the M-20 bridge construction is completed, traffic patterns return to normal thereafter, and sufficient data is obtained to fully understand the effect of the reduced lanes on vehicles in this corridor. MDOT and the City are currently discussing how much longer the trial will be needed once the M-20 bridge construction ends this fall.
A traffic study conducted by MDOT in 1959 proposed the idea of 2 one-way streets to relocate the main thoroughfare that then passed through downtown. Prior to 1962, Ellsworth Street served as the primary route through Downtown Midland. In 1962, the change was made to the 2 three-lane one-ways of Indian and Buttles Streets
During the mid-century, traffic planners and road designers had one main goal: move as many vehicles through communities as quickly as possible with the only consideration given to cars. While this approach - called “Motordom” - was efficient for vehicles, it had little to no regard for the impact that those roads would have on the surrounding neighborhoods. This resulted in some very impactful trade-offs that weren’t all positive
Additionally, local traffic on Indian and Buttles during the 1950s - 1980s was heavily influenced by shift changes at the area’s manufacturing employers. As staffing levels have changed, and access routes have shifted into the industrial park, volumes during peak times has greatly decreased on Buttles and Indian Streets. In fact, traffic volumes during the roads’ peak rush hour - between 7-8 a.m. - are down 28% from where they were 30 years ago. This reduction results in a corridor that is overbuilt for current and forecasted future needs.
A study completed by consultants examined several redesign options for the US 10 Business Route corridor. The preferred alternative, based on the needs of all corridor users, was a reduction in the number of lanes from three to two.
Buttles and Indian Streets are overbuilt in their current design. This provides conditions that are unnecessarily unsafe. A single lane reduction is being considered to change how drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians use the road in order to reduce speeding and encourage safety for everyone. A lane-reduction would also result in more space that can be devoted to other users. A final decision has not been made as to how the resulting space could be used but examples of potential uses include widened sidewalks, buffer zones, dedicated vehicle-turn lanes or separated bike lanes.
The consultants’ recommendation to reduce Buttles Street from three to two lanes was based on an engineering analysis completed and presented in the final study report using a variety of available and collected traffic data. Although the recommendation was and remains supported by the information that was available at that time, on-street testing was desired by both MDOT and the City of Midland to make certain the consultant’s findings would hold up under real-world conditions. Short trials took place in August 2017 and November 2017, both of which supported the consultants’ findings that only two lanes of travel are needed to accommodate the traffic using the corridor between Jerome Street and State Street. The trial now underway is an expanded testing of this finding and continues to collect data that will be used to make a final decision for the future of this corridor.
The long-term goal for this area of downtown Midland can be found within the City’s Master Plan. The Master Plan envisions this corridor for additional mixed use development that consists of a combination of restaurants, shops, residential, services, and offices. Indian and Buttles Streets in the current, overbuilt design do not support mixed use development.
Buttles and Indian Streets are overbuilt in their current design. This provides conditions that are unnecessarily unsafe. A single lane reduction is being considered to change how drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians use the road in order to reduce speeding and encourage safety for everyone. A lane-reduction would also result in more space that can be devoted to other users. While a final design has not been determined, the resulting space could be used to accommodate other non-motorized users thereby improve these users access into downtown. Improved infrastructure to support non-motorized access will better connect the surrounding neighborhoods to downtown, while still maintaining adequate access by vehicle users.
No. The improvements identified within the 2015-17 Corridor Study apply to the entire U.S. 10 Business Route corridor. These improvements include context sensitive design, improved safety and better access for pedestrians and bicyclists between surrounding neighborhoods, specifically midtown, downtown, and the cultural area that includes Midland Center for the Arts, Dow Gardens and Whiting Forest, and the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library.
Traffic data collected during the trial period includes vehicle speed and volume. MDOT has also performed two delay studies during this trial period. Crash data within the corridor is also being collected by MDOT and the City during the trial period. The traffic data collected has been presented at two prior meetings of City Council, including at the October 29, 2018 meeting and then again at the May 20, 2019 meeting.
The lane reduction (or road diet) is being evaluated against the purpose outlined in the 2016 MDOT study. This purpose is to provide a change that will accommodate future traffic, enhance safety, increase connectivity, improve non-motorized mobility, be context sensitive and support economic development within the corridor.
The information being collected now for evaluation is related to traffic data only. This traffic data will be used to test the validity of the information used in the traffic model for the 2016 study and the corresponding recommendation in the 2016 Corridor Study. Various traffic indicators identified have been collected during the trial period, including information on vehicle speed and volume. Also vehicle delay information and crash data is collected.
Once traffic data confirms whether or not a reduction in lanes can be accommodated now and into the foreseeable future, City Council will review that data as well as all public comments received. Additional data may be requested at that time, and additional public input opportunities will be provided. Once City Council is satisfied that the data they need to render a decision has been provided, they will make a further recommendation to MDOT on their preferred design for the corridor.
There is a common misconception that the road diet is intended to create a bike lane for the use of bicyclists. This misconception likely came from early concept drawings showing bike lanes in several of the options considered for the Buttles Street corridor. The reality is that no design for the corridor has yet been developed and no decision has been made on what could be included in that corridor. While a bike lane is one possible option, other options for non-motorized mobility and connectivity include separated, off-street pathways or widened sidewalks.
No. The closed lane is closed to all users, including bicyclists and pedestrians. It is not intended for any use during the trial that is taking place. In fact, since the markings of this lane are only temporary plastic bollards, it is not safe for anyone to use that lane at this time. Both MDOT and the City therefore actively discourage any use of the lane at this time. As such, there should be no pedestrians or bicyclists in the lane - which is what we are observing.
The trial is intended to collect data on the ability of Buttles Street to operate as a two-lane road instead of the current three-lane configuration. Construction in the downtown area does not significantly impact the trial or the data being collected. While specific construction sites may be in the study area and may have an impact on traffic at times, observing this and seeing the impacts of the trial during this time is beneficial. Since construction in the downtown area never really stops, it would also be difficult to select a time where no construction is taking place. Stopping the trial now, and then restarting it again in the future, would also prove more problematic and frustrating for corridor users than would finishing the trial now as quickly as possible.
In the first year of the road diet trial (from May 2018 to May 2019), 37 accidents were reported in the trial area, compared to 26 crashes for the same timeframe in the previous year. While traffic accidents are never an ideal situation, it’s not uncommon for areas to experience an increase in traffic crashes for a brief time period after experiencing a change in traffic patterns. In fact, the 42% increase in year-over-year traffic accidents (26 versus 37) is not the largest percentage increase in accidents this corridor has seen in the past 5 years.
In 17 of the 37 crashes reported in the trial area since data collection began, a motorist disregarded a traffic control signal (ran a red light or stop sign) on Buttles or a cross street and experienced a collision. These types of crashes are almost exclusively attributable to driver error and are not likely to have been caused by the lane reduction on Buttles Street.
Police, fire and ambulance service are all being considered as various options for the Buttles Street corridor are explored. During the road diet trial, no delays for these emergency service providers have been reported. Following the completion of the trial, all three emergency services will be further consulted to assess their experiences in greater detail before any design options are developed or considered.
Yes. The 2015-17 Corridor Study commissioned by MDOT included modeling and forecasts for increased vehicle and pedestrian volumes that could result from increased development not only in downtown Midland but also throughout the community and the surrounding area.
Midland has experienced a negligible level of population growth over the past 2 decades. Midland’s population in 2000 was 41,869; in 2018, it was estimated at only 41,800. While new development has taken place and the city has spread outward, the number of people living here has not increased. Nevertheless, to account for commercial/industrial growth and residential development beyond the City limits, the traffic studies all included an assumed 0.5% growth in traffic each year moving forward.
The number of vehicles commuting into the downtown area has dramatically decreased over the years as manufacturing activities have moved to other areas of the community. Today, commuting traffic makes up most of the motoring population on Buttles and Indian streets. While getting the motoring public from point A to point B safely is important, it is also important to provide an enjoyable experience that slows traffic for those working and living along the corridor and encourages those driving through our community to perhaps stop in for shopping, dining and entertainment.
City Council has received the corridor study and considered the options presented in that report. On December 17, 2017, City Council passed a resolution that supported in principle the conversion of Buttles Street, between Jerome Street and State Street, from 3 lanes to 2 lanes. This resolution provided for the longer data collection process known as the Buttles Street Road Diet Trial that is now underway. The trial started on May 14, 2018.
The decision of whether or not to permanently convert this section of Buttles Street to a 2 lane corridor has not yet been made. Similarly, the decision of what this section of Buttles Street would look like if converted to a 2 lane corridor has also not yet been made. Opportunities for public comment and input that will be considered before those decisions are made are currently underway, and will continue to be provided before City Council takes any position and makes any final recommendation to MDOT.
The only decision made by the City Council to date is to support the conversion of Buttles Street from Jerome Street to State Street in principle. This has permitted the trial now underway to take place, thereby allowing MDOT and the City to collect and analyze real world data. It is not a final decision and does not direct what would be done with the corridor if a lane reduction is ultimately determined to be appropriate. In fact, specific alternative designs for the corridor have not even been prepared, so a final decision could not have been made. Further discussion and deliberation will be needed, and all input received will be considered through that process.
If you have specific comments you feel we should hear and consider, we would encourage you to submit them in writing to us by postal mail or via email. If you simply want to talk about the corridor, we would encourage you to contact the City Planning Department for that purpose at 989-837-3374, via staff email, or by stopping by City Hall.
Discussions with a staff member to share specific experiences you have had in the trial area are always helpful. The more specific you can be, the more helpful that discussion will be for us at the City as the trial progresses. City Planning staff would be happy to have that discussion with you.
If you wish to have your thoughts, experiences, and suggestions noted officially for the public record, you may always do so in written form. Emailing a member of City staff, an elected member of City Council, or sending a mailed letter are all available options.
Every written correspondence sent to the City is included in the official record. Each time that the trial comes before the City Council, letters received since the last meeting and prior to the City Council agenda being posted are included in the agenda packet so that all members of City Council receive and are able to review them. As City Council agenda packets are publicly available, this also makes every written correspondence available to the public for review and consideration.
No. While we do monitor both print and digital communications outlets in the community, comments must be submitted directly to the City via the methods suggested above if you wish them to be part of the formal public record.
As with all of its decisions, members of the City Council will review all received public comments and reflect on discussions with residents of the community. Public feedback from residents, as well as the data collected during the road diet trial, will be reviewed and utilized by the City and members of the City Council before any final decision is made.
Yes, the orange plastic bollards in place are not attractive; however, only certain traffic control devices are permitted for use on a public road. The bollards need to stay as long as the data collection process continues. As soon as that data collection is complete, the orange bollards will be removed and the community discussion about what the future of this corridor will continue.
The trial is complicated and lengthened by the ongoing construction of the M-20 bridge crossing the Tittabawassee River. Traffic conditions through the study corridor during this construction are different than what will be experienced when that bridge is completed and traffic returns to its normal patterns. Because of this, the trial will need to run past the completion of the bridge (currently on schedule to be completed in September of 2019). The original thought was that one year of data collection following the bridge completion may be necessary, although MDOT and City officials are discussing this timing now.
Remembering that the trial is taking place for the purpose of collecting data that will be used to help inform upcoming decisions on the future of the road corridor, the trial will end as soon as MDOT and City officials are confident in the data collected. As soon as that takes place, the City will work with MDOT to immediately end the trial, remove the temporary plastic bollards, and begin a broader community discussion on what should be done with the corridor.
Following conclusion of the trial, the final data will be reviewed and analyzed by MDOT and presented to City Council. City Council will then need to make a decision on whether or not to move forward with the process to determine a final design for Buttles Street with two-lanes. Consideration at that time could also include Indian Street and the possibility of maintaining the current three-lane profile.
The 2015 US 10 Business Route Corridor Study conducted by MDOT included several options for Indian Street. The preferred option for that street was the same as for Buttles Street: a reduction from three to two travel lanes. Consideration of those options has not yet taken place and no direction or decision on Indian Street has yet been made by City Council or MDOT.
Buttles Street is an MDOT corridor and changes made to it fall within their jurisdiction and control. Once plans are developed for the corridor, MDOT will coordinate the project and ultimately contract for the changes through an open bidding process.
The cost of any work to be done in the corridor is ultimately the responsibility of MDOT, but there are both federal and local shares of the project cost that would be the responsibility of the City of Midland. Typical MDOT projects have required a 2-3% city match previously.
The timeline to start any possible work within the Buttles Street corridor is not known at this time. Once a project design is decided upon, cost estimates will need to be prepared and both MDOT and the City of Midland will need to budget funds for the project. This process is likely to take several years given State of Michigan and City of Midland budgeting processes.
Many other communities across the state of Michigan and the country have seen improvements following road diet implementations. While many of these involve four lane, bi-directional roadways being “dieted” to three lanes, the same improvements can be achieved by reducing a one-way roadway from three lanes to two. These improvements include traffic calming and better accommodation of other corridor users including pedestrians and bicycles.