Indian & Buttles Streets Corridor Study
Midland City Council Passes Resolution to Support Two-Lane Profile Redesign for Buttles Street
At its January 25, 2021 City Council meeting, the Midland City Council passed a resolution by 3-2 vote to support the redesign of the Buttles Street corridor from Jerome Street/M-20 to State Street from three vehicular travel lanes to a two-lane profile. The resolution also directs City staff to work with the Michigan Department of Transportation to incorporate public input received over the course of the road diet trial to address local concerns, as well as requests that MDOT conduct public workshops to engage the Midland community and collect feedback throughout the roadway redesign process. Watch the video above for an overview of what this means for the community.
January 25, 2021: Midland City Council Passes Resolution
Watch the video above to view the Midland City Council discussion and resolution regarding the Buttles Street corridor. (The agenda item begins at the 1:00:00 mark)
So What's Next?
Residents will not see changes to this corridor for some time, as the project will now enter the design phase at MDOT with input and assistance from City staff as necessary. Design concepts and other elements on the redevelopment of this roadway will follow in the months and years to come with opportunities for the public to provide feedback when appropriate.
MDOT anticipates that the corridor will see reconstruction during the 2024 construction season, at which time the road profile will be transitioned into two lanes for motor vehicles. Until that time, the corridor will remain three lanes. A final design concept for this corridor has not been determined yet, so check back to this page frequently for updates as the design process progresses.
Click here to view a full document that details all Council action and presentations related to the Buttles Street road diet trial to date. These documents and corresponding videos can also be found independently throughout this page, so please continue reading and look around!
- City Council - US 10 BR Corridor Study Results (March 27 2017)
- City Council - Road Diet Trial Study Overview (December 18 2017)
- Planning Commission - Buttles Road Diet and Planning (September 11 2018)
- City Council - Road Diet Trial Objectives Resolution (October 8 2018)
- City Council - Road Diet Trial Update (October 29 2018)
- City Council - Road Diet Trial Update (May 20 2019)
- Public Info Session - August 14 2019
- Community Conversation Presentation (September 18 2019)
- Community Conversation Info Packet (September 18 2019)
- City Council Update - Road Diet Trial Update (November 23 2020)
Background on the Study
In May 2018, Midland City Council approved a 3-year lane reduction study of Buttles Street. This study temporarily barricades the far right lane of Buttles Street from M-20/Jerome Street to State Street in an effort to observe how the road would function as a two-lane street. During the 3-year study phase, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) will periodically monitor the study area to observe four key factors of roadway service level: traffic speeds, traffic volume, traffic accidents, and traffic delays and back-ups.
Prior to the 2018 study being approved by City Council, MDOT also conducted several multi-day test closures on portions of Buttles Street in August 2017 and November 2017 prior to suggesting a full-scale trial be implemented. Monitoring first took place after a 6-month period in 2018, then proceeds to occur annually from the May 2018 through the end of the trial period. Throughout the study period, MDOT representatives and City staff report current data findings and observations to City Council and the general public at scheduled City Council meetings.
To view documents, presentations, and videos related to these findings, see the "City Presentations" sidebar.
Why consider a "road diet" in this area?
As MDOT and the City of Midland reviewed the 2015 study and planned for the future of our community, several goals were identified for the Indian and Buttles street corridors:
- Improve safety for motorized and non-motorized transportation users
- Encourage economic development in the corridor
- Improve inter-neighborhood connectivity and mobility
- Develop a corridor that better reflects current roadway design standards and best practices for both motorized and non-motorized uses
In each consideration, lane reductions have proven to be an effective tool utilized by transportation engineers and urban planners to meet these conditions. Keep reading to learn more about the vision for this corridor, the "whys" behind the study, and updates on current study data. You can also find a helpful list of documents on the right sidebar (desktop) or bottom of the page (mobile) to find public meeting presentations, study documents, and more.
Where did this idea begin?
Beginning in 2015, MDOT commissioned a study with consulting firms MKSK Studios and DLZ to analyze the entire US 10 Business Route corridor in both directions from Washington Street to Airport Road. The final study report, presented to Midland City Council in March 2017, included observations from consultants and public input collected by MDOT as well as a list of viable alternative options for improving traffic flow and pedestrian usage through the corridor. One of these options included a lane reduction on both Indian and Buttles streets in the current road diet trial area. Click the links below to see more information related to the US 10 BR Corridor Study.
- Read the 2015 US 10 BR Corridor Study (PDF)
- Watch the March 27, 2017 study presentation to City Council (VIDEO - begins at the 12:10 mark)
- View the March 27, 2017 study presentation to City Council (PDF)
Video: History of the Indian & Buttles Street Corridor
If you're a newer resident to Midland, you might be surprised to learn that Buttles and Indian haven't always been three-lane thoroughfares. Watch the video above to learn more about the history of this corridor and why, now, it may make sense for a lane reduction to take place.
Case Studies & Articles
- Federal Highway Administration - Road Diet Informational Guide (PDF)
- Federal Highway Administration - Road Diet Case Studies
- AARP - Road Diets: A Livability Fact Sheet (PDF)
- NACTO - York Blvd: The Economics of a Road Diet (PDF)
- Catalyst Midland - Downtown Midland's Lane Reduction Test: Can less be more?
- NACTO - Market Street Protected, Buffered Bicycle Lane (San Francisco)
- Project for Public Spaces - Prospect Park West: Overcoming Controversy to Improve Safety & Mobility in Brooklyn
- Greater Greater Washington - Why Do People Oppose Road Diets?
- CityLab - Why One Florida City Reversed Its Road Diet
- Route Fifty - Why Speed Kills Cities
- CityLab - So What Exactly is a Road Diet?
- CNU Public Square - Road Diet Creates People-Oriented Corridor for Oak Park, Michigan
January 11, 2021: City Council Collects Final Public Input on Future of Buttles Street
At its first meeting of 2021, the Midland City Council provided residents and M-20 corridor users with the opportunity to share their feedback in a final public comment session on Monday, January 11. For a recap of this meeting, watch the 'What's Up in the City!' video above.
To view the full Council meeting, including public comment, please watch the January 11, 2021 City Council meeting below. (Discussion on the corridor begins at the 1:34:30 mark)
January 11, 2021 - Final Public Comment Received for Future of Buttles Street Corridor
November 2020: MDOT Returns to Council to Provide Post-Trial Statistics
At its November 23, 2020 City Council meeting, the Midland City Council received an update from MDOT on traffic, safety, and delay statistics that it compiled in the Buttles Street corridor following the conclusion of the road diet trial. Additional traffic monitoring and data analysis was conducted in November 2020 to ascertain how traffic was navigating the corridor as a three-lane roadway.
- The road diet trial had no significant impact on traffic safety (crashes), vehicle speed, and mobility for motorists (delays/transit times through the corridor) because data during the trial was very similar to that collected both before and after the trial was implemented;
- The number of accidents recorded both during the trial period were almost exclusively attributable to driver behavior, not roadway size or design;
- The number of accidents recorded in this corridor each year, including during the trial period, are very minimal and almost too small to properly record a trend;
- The roadway saw no traffic delays during or after the road diet trial; and
- In the opinion of MDOT traffic experts, Buttles Street can function safely and effectively as both a two-lane and a three-lane roadway in this area
City Council received and filed this information, with no decisions being made at this meeting. MDOT has indicated that it plans to revamp the Buttles Street corridor in the next 3-5 years and will begin design considerations in January 2021 with input from City Council about its desire for the future of Buttles, whether as a two-lane or a three-lane road. City Council is anticipated to discuss this project in more detail and make a formal recommendation to MDOT about the community's desire for the future sometime prior to this timeframe, but no formal date has been set at this time.
Watch this "What's Up in the City!" to get an overview of the meeting, then check out the full meeting video below. Discussion of the road diet begins at the 2:45:00 mark.
What's Up in the City!: Road Diet Trial Update, November 25, 2020
City Council Meeting - November 23, 2020
November 2019: Council Requests Trial End
At its November 18, 2019 City Council meeting, the Midland City Council discussed the future of the Buttles Street road diet trial. At that time, Council voted to request that MDOT complete the current road diet trial by the end of the calendar year 2019. If MDOT believes additional data is needed to successfully end the trial, Council has asked that MDOT provide what additional data is needed and an estimated time frame for completion. On Thursday, November 21, City Manager Brad Kaye sent a letter to MDOT reflecting Council's position.
It is anticipated that MDOT will attend an upcoming City Council to provide the most recently-collected study data and make its recommendation about the future of Buttles Street.
Watch the video below beginning at the 1:02:25 mark to listen to Council discussion regarding the road diet trial.
City Council Meeting - November 18, 2019
December 2019: MDOT to Remove Bollards, Conclude Trial Period
On December 9, 2019, MDOT responded to the City Council's letter asking for the trial period to conclude by the end of the calendar year. In its letter, MDOT indicates that it is satisfied with the amount of data collection received during the trial period and will return Buttles Street to a 3-lane configuration by the end of December 2019. MDOT will conduct additional data collection in January 2020 after the return to a 3-lane configuration and, following the conclusion of this data collection period, will return to City Council in February or March 2020 with a final analysis of all data collection and recommendation to Council. At that time, Council will make a decision regarding the future of the Indian and Buttles corridors.
Watch the Council meeting below to hear a discussion about MDOT's letter and the end to the road diet trial period. The discussion begins at the 50:05 mark.
City Council Meeting - December 9, 2019
What is the study trying to address?
At the highest level, the Indian & Buttles Corridor Study is just that - a study to determine if Buttles Street can function as a two-lane road. However, the study is a part of an overall vision to transform Indian and Buttles streets into an area of the community that's functional and safe for all users - vehicles and pedestrians - while encouraging economic growth and development, neighborhood connectivity, and increased non-motorized use.
Lane reductions are conducted in communities throughout the United States for a variety of reasons. The current Indian & Buttles Corridor Study seeks to address six key factors that are vital to the future success of our downtown corridor and, to a larger extent, the entire community:
- Economic Development
- Non-motorized Mobility
- Context Sensitive Design/Solutions
For more information on each of these factors, please click on the tabs below to pull up more details. (The tab you're currently viewing will be shown in green; additional tabs available to be clicked will be shown in gray.)
Since 2017, MDOT has observed the road diet trial area several times to understand how the road is performing:
- August 28 - 30, 2017
- November 6 - 13, 2017
- September 25 - 28, 2018
- October 12 - 14, 2018
- March 3 - 9, 2019
- April 28 - May 4, 2019
- May 7 – 8, 2019
- October 2-5, 2019
- November 11-14, 2020
When conducting roadway studies, MDOT and the City are analyzing four areas: vehicle speed, traffic volume, back-ups and delays, and accident data. Metrics for the first three areas are collected on-site by MDOT, while the fourth is provided by the Midland Police Department and other local agencies. Let's take a look at the most recent data for each area. Previous data collections can be found in the Council presentations with the corresponding date under the "City presentations" heading or at the bottom of this container under "Related Items".
This section was updated November 25, 2020.
Traffic volumes in the Buttles Street corridor have remained relatively consistent during the road diet trial as they have in previous years. Recent field counts found 13,875 vehicles per day at Jerome Street in 2018, right around the 5-year average volume, and a slight increase of about 1,100 vehicles per day at State Street. Volumes for the past 9 years as provided by MDOT are listed below:
SE of Jerome St
|SE of State St||13,520||N/A||11,892||11,247||12,624||12,541||13,123||12,341||12,605|
Updated volumes for 2019 and 2020 can be found in the "Vehicle Speeds" graphic listed below.
At its most recent presentation to Midland City Council in November 2020, traffic analysts at MDOT detailed a traffic volume and speed data comparison to the corridor with the roadway as a two-lane road (2019) and a three-lane road (2020). The data compiled found that speeds were 1-2 mph slower under two-lane conditions and that daily traffic volumes were considerably lower in 2020 as a three-lane road. (This could be due to remote work and other impacts as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.)
Traffic Delays & Back-ups
Traffic delay studies identify the number of vehicles that are left waiting at a signalized intersection through more than one light cycle. During MDOT’s delay studies in November 2020, May 2019, September 2018, and November 2017, no traffic delays in the road diet trial area were found.
In 2019 when the road diet trial was in place, the corridor saw 34 traffic crashes. From January 1 to October 3, 2020, the corridor saw 22 traffic crashes as a three-lane roadway. In both years, the majority of traffic crashes were caused by a motorist running a red light on Buttles or a cross-street. Other than two rear-end collisions recorded in 2019, which are accidents commonly attributed to delivery issues with the roadway's design, every accident recorded in both 2019 and 2020 can be attributed to driver behavior and not roadway design.
According to traffic analysts at MDOT, these numbers are extremely small data points and year-over-year accident numbers in the corridor are so low that it's difficult to apply any positive or negative trends to these numbers.
- Road Diet Trial Update to City Council - November 23, 2020 (VIDEO) Begins at 2:45:00
- Road Diet Trial Update to City Council - November 23, 2020 (PDF)
- Road Diet Trial Update to City Council - May 20, 2019 (VIDEO) Begins at 48:00
- Road Diet Trial Update to City Council - May 20, 2019 (PDF)
- Road Diet Trial Update to City Council - October 29, 2018 (VIDEO) Begins at 47:20
- Road Diet Trial Update to City Council - October 29, 2018 (PDF)
- Federal Highway Traffic Administration - Myth: Road Diets Make Traffic Worse (PDF)
For many motorists, a narrower roadway makes them feel uncomfortable while driving: believe it or not, that discomfort actually proves to make roadways safer for all users, including those both inside and outside vehicles. That's because many drivers base their travel speeds on “feeling” – and the more comfortable they feel, the faster and less cautiously they drive. Faster speeds and more careless driving leads to more accidents, more serious injuries, and more property damage.
Since driving by “feeling” is a subconscious action, simply lowering the speed limit in a corridor often doesn’t solve the problem. While adding increased traffic patrols from law enforcement is a temporary solution, it's also reactionary and unsustainable to execute over a long period of time. If the design of a roadway can naturally encourage drivers to slow their travel speeds, drive more cautiously, and limit distractions, it's proven to be safer for everyone.
According to the Federal Highway Traffic Administration, road diets actually reduce rear-end collisions and sideswipe crashes by slowing vehicle speeds by 3 to 5 miles per hour as well as decrease the frequency of drivers speeding 5 or more miles over the speed limit by 70 percent.
But isn't Buttles "too busy" to see a lane reduction? No - in fact, our one-way pairs fall into many of the categories that experts say make a road diet most likely to be successful:
- Moderate volumes (8,000-15,000 average daily traffic)
- Roads with safety issues
- Popular or essential bicycle routes
- Commercial reinvestment areas
- Entertainment districts
- Main streets
- Federal Highway Traffic Administration - Road Diet FAQ (PDF)
- AARP - Road Diets: A Livability Fact Sheet (PDF)
- Governors Highway Safety Association - A Right to the Road: Understanding & Addressing Bicyclist Safety (PDF)
- US Department of Transportation - Traffic Calming to Slow Vehicle Speeds
- Vox - Road Diets: Designing a Safer Street (VIDEO)
- Route Fifty - Why Speed Kills Cities
Our one-way pairs are over-engineered, which means that they’re designed to handle much more traffic than they actually see. This has created some concerns for the future of economic development on Indian and Buttles Street.
When communities build roadways that are over-sized for their locations, a number of things happen:
- It creates less usable space for other purposes, such as sidewalks, non-motorized lanes, green space, or additional property development.
- It encourages unsafe driving conditions,like speeding and frequent lane changes, that make it difficult for pedestrian and non-motorized traffic to cross or use the road.
- Higher speeds create more noise pollution, which makes an area less enjoyable to live and shop in.
When an area becomes less accessible and less desirable to live or build in, its property values decline: not only for homes and businesses along the corridor, but just outside of the corridor as well. Lower property values make it difficult to see positive return on investment for property. Furthermore, when property values go down, property tax revenue decreases, which also impacts the services and amenities that the City is able to provide.
During the City’s Master Plan update in 2007, input from residents supported expanding what we consider the “downtown” area to include the one-way pairs. This means that the goals of downtown development - high-quality, higher-density design; buildings closer to front property lines; and accessible spaces that promote both indoor and outdoor interaction – are also the future goals for the Buttles and Indian Street corridor.
At the end of the day, private businesses ultimately decide where to locate their organizations. Our goal is to create an environment that encourages economic development with the entire community in mind. And when a business or organization chooses to invest in Midland, the entire community benefits through increased job opportunities, higher property values, and more expanded service offerings.
- City of Midland Master Plan
- Metro Magazine - Study Finds Value in Downtown, Center Cities Investment
- Smart Growth America - Complete Streets Stimulate the Local Economy (PDF)
- Federal Highway Administration - Road Diets' Economic Impact (PDF)
- National Association of City Transportation Officials - York Blvd: The Economics of a Road Diet (PDF)
Non-motorized transportation refers to all users of a corridor that aren't using an motorized vehicle: that includes pedestrians on foot, bicyclists, mobility devices (wheelchairs, power chairs, etc.), and others. In previous decades, streets were built with the primary accommodation being given to motorists; however, today's consumer trends show more pedestrians and cyclists on the streets than ever before. Some members of a community utilize non-motorized transportation because that don't have access to or own a vehicle, while others may enjoy getting exercise, limiting their carbon footprints, or experiencing their community in a different way. Regardless of the reasons why, the fact is: roads that are designed solely for automobile travel put people at risk and discourage pedestrian usage.
In 2005, MDOT created a policy to include the “context sensitive solutions” process in the planning of its projects.
Later, in August 2010, two public acts made the Complete Streets approach a requirement for all state transportation projects. Complete streets provide safe, efficient access and use for any type of legal transportation on a public roadway.
Since June 2010, Midland has had a “Complete Streets” policy that challenges our staff to consider creating roadways that are safe for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, residents with mobility devices, and automobiles. With more inter-community connectivity comes the potential for greater economic investment, increased social interaction, and a better quality of life for all of our tax-paying residents. Advances in non-motorized mobility benefit members of our community from all walks of life.
- MDOT - Complete Streets Policy FAQs (PDF)
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration - Traffic Safety Facts: Bicyclists & Other Cyclists (PDF)
- Smart Growth America - Complete Streets Help Create Livable Communities (PDF)
- Smart Growth America - Complete Streets Change Travel Patterns (PDF)
- Pedestrian & Bicycle Information Center - Tools to Reduce Crossing Distances for Pedestrians
- Case Study: CNU Public Square - Road Diet Creates People-Oriented Corridor for Oak Park, MI
Context Sensitive Design
You may have heard the phrase “context sensitive design” in relation to the road diet trial. But what does that mean?
Context sensitive design means designing roads using standards and development practices that are flexible and sensitive to community values and encourages roadway designers to make decisions that balance economic, social and environmental objectives. That means that planners, engineers, and developers go through a process – called context sensitive solutions – that incorporates input from the community and its stakeholders to include less-tangible goals such as livability, mobility, economic sustainability, and more.
In 2005, MDOT created a policy to include the “context sensitive solutions” process in the planning of its projects. In fact, you may have participated in the context sensitive solutions process on this corridor before: MDOT conducted public input sessions at City Hall in March 2015, December 2016, and September 2017 to discuss the future use of this roadway. At these meetings, residents shared feedback with traffic engineers and viewed sample infrastructure designs proposed for the corridor. See the "Future Vision for the Corridor" section below this tab for more details.
Check out the "Non-Motorized Transport" tab for more information about how state and local policies, such as the Complete Streets initiative, incorporates many of these concepts.
- MDOT - US 10 Business Route Corridor Study Results, 2017 (PDF)
- US DOT Federal Highway Administration - Context Sensitive Design/Context Sensitive Solutions Fact Sheet (PDF)
- US DOT Federal Highway Administration - Road Diet Case Studies (PDF)
- MDOT - Complete Streets & Context Sensitive Solutions (PDF)
- MDOT - Context Sensitive Solutions Policy, 2005 (PDF)
- MDOT - Aesthetics Policy, 2000 (PDF)
Whether to get healthy, to get outside, or to simply get to where they need to go, people are choosing to spend more time walking and biking to their destinations than ever before - and that requires us to take a deeper look at how our infrastructure network functions for that purpose. Walking, biking, and other forms of non-automotive methods of travel are all forms of transportation, too!
It’s been a longtime goal of the City's Master Plan to incorporate the areas surrounding Indian and Buttles streets into the expanded downtown area to further drive economic development and create a more connected downtown core. With more inter-community connectivity comes the potential for greater economic investment, increased social interaction, and a better quality of life for all of our tax-paying residents. As we continue to see growth and investment in core areas of our community such as Midtown and the Downtown District, it’s becoming more important to create a way for all transportation users to access these areas as safely and efficiently as possible.
Advances in non-motorized mobility benefit members of our community from all walks of life. In fact, the more connected and "included" a person feels in a community, the more likely he or she is to live there and contribute to that community in a positive way - both personally and economically.
Public Input: Meetings and Information Sessions
In addition to regularly-scheduled City public meetings, additional opportunities for public involvement have also been implemented during the road diet trial.
Public Information Session & Walking Tour - August 14, 2019
Two public information sessions and walking tours of the corridor were held on Thursday, August 8 and Wednesday, August 14 at City Hall that covered an overview of the proposed trial, current data and statistics, and an opportunity for attendees to experience the corridor on foot and share their feedback. Watch the video below to see the August 14, 2019 meeting.
- Presentation - Indian & Buttles Corridor Public Info Session, August 8, 2019 (PDF)
- Presentation - Indian & Buttles Corridor Public Info Session - August 14, 2019 (PDF)
City Council Community Conversation - September 18, 2019
On Wednesday, September 18, a special meeting of the Midland City Council was held at Memorial Presbyterian Church in Midland to facilitate a community conversation between City staff, residents, the Michigan Department of Transportation, and Council. City staff provided an overview of the study, followed by attendees' forming small groups to discuss the six objectives of the study to provide feedback, ask questions, and offer suggestions. Watch the video below to view the meeting.
E-CityHall Online Public Survey
In Q3 2019, residents residents and M-20 corridor users were encouraged to share their input with City staff and the Midland City Council on the City's E-CityHall public engagement platform. The results, which include over 170 responses and 9.5 hours of estimated public input, can be found here.
Future vision for the corridor
Now that we've covered the reasons why this trial has been executed, let's address the next question: What would Indian and Buttles streets look like if they were taken down to two-lane roads? If the road diet trial were to be implemented, we’d rely on the public’s input to help shape the actual design, but MDOT provided some potential options for this corridor at its 2016 US-10 Corridor Study open house that residents were able to discuss. Find them below.
ARTICLE: Can less be more?
What are we looking to accomplish through this road diet trial? City staff sat down with Catalyst Midland to talk about our vision for the future of Buttles and Indian streets that could become a reality if the road diet trial proves successful. Click the image above to read the article.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you still have questions about the road diet trial after reviewing the information above, please look through a few of our FAQs to see if your question has been asked before!
- Who was responsible for initiating the US 10 Corridor Study in 2015?
- Who are the stakeholders that asked for this?
- Why were earlier trials conducted before the current trial was started?
- Why are there three lanes now? If they were needed before, why aren’t they needed now?
- What is the purpose of the road diet trial now taking place?
- What is the long term goal?
- How does a lane reduction better connect downtown to the surrounding community?
- Are corridor improvements only being considered to benefit the immediately surrounding properties?
- What data is being collected during the current trial period?
- What is the plan for evaluating the lane reduction?
- Why are we considering closing a lane of traffic to accommodate bicyclists?
- I don’t see pedestrians or bicyclists using the closed lane on Buttles Street. Doesn’t this show that the trial isn’t working and the lane closure is not needed?
- Wouldn’t it be better to stop the trial until all construction downtown is finished?
- It has been reported that Buttles Street has seen an increase in crashes because of the road diet. What is happening there?
- How will this impact emergency vehicles traveling through the corridor?
- Has future development, growth, and increased pedestrian usage been considered?
- What has already been decided by City Council?
- The decision on this trial has already been made. Why should I participate in any future meetings?
- How can I share my experiences in the corridor with the City?
- What happens to my comments after I submit them in writing to the City?
- Does the City compile other communications about the road diet, such as letters to the editor in the Midland Daily News or posts on social media outlets?
- How will City Council address the public feedback it receives?
- The plastic bollards in place are ugly and make the area unattractive. Can’t we do something that looks better?
- Why is the trial taking so long to complete? When will it end?
- What happens at the end of the trial period?
- Are there plans to do the same on Indian Street?
- Who will be paying for any future changes to the road and what would the timeframe be to start construction?
- How have road diets benefited other communities?