April Action Item! Sign this petition to show your support for the Jackson Road 4-3 lane conversion. Project details below.
A proposed Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) project to convert the section of Jackson Avenue in Ann Arbor between Dexter and Collingwood has meet with recent loud opposition. The proposed project would convert this portion of Jackson Avenue from four, ten foot, lanes to three, 11 foot, lanes with a dedicated center turn lane, bike lanes and additional pedestrian crossings. The project was supported by city staff, received 20 favorable comments at a public meeting and received a resolution in support from city council, but a recent article in annarbor.com about the project generated a wave of negative commentary and letters to MDOT from members of the public concerned the conversion will cause congestion and mayhem by adding bike lanes and reducing travel lanes.
Picture credit: Ryan Stanton, annarbor.com
Not surprisingly, WBWC strongly supports this conversion this bike/ped friendly road conversion. However, we strongly believe all users will benefit from the conversion, not just cyclists. The benefits include:
1) Improved Traffic Flow: MDOT completed an analysis and computer modeling for the 3-lane traffic operation at Jackson Ave, including modeling for the traffic flow during the rush hours. MDOT determined that the 4-3 lane conversion would improve the traffic flow at the corridor, not create more congestion as opponents suggest.
2) Fewer Accidents: As motorists, we seem to believe that four lane roads are better for travel. However, in realiity, traffic engineers are finding that 4-3 lane conversions can not only create more "complete streets" since they offer the opportunity to include better facilities for cyclists and pedestrians, but also improved travel and safety for motorists. Platt Road in Ann Arbor (from Packard to Ellsworth) was converted from four to three lanes. Prior to it's conversion, it had 20 to 30 accidents per year, but in the last two years is down to six or seven per year.
3) Traffic Calming: Speeds along Jackson Road are dangerously high, posing a risk for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists. From 2008- 2010, there were 70 accidents along Jackson Ave with an injury rate of 19%. The conversion to three lanes is anticipated to slow speeds and thus reduce the frequency and severity of accidents as has been the experience on other 4-3 lane conversions in Ann Arbor.
4) Improved Travel for Larger Vehicles: 10 foot travel lanes provide little room for error. The conversion , which is consistent with complete streets principles, would increase lane size and improve travel for the operators of larger vehicles like buses and trucks which frequently travel on this state trunk line.
5) Increased Pedestrian Safety: Not only will the conversion allow for the addition of pedestrian crossings, but the conversion is also anticipated to reduce speeds. Posted speeds are 35mph, but real speeds are closer to 45mph. A number of studies have shown that 5 percent of pedestrians would die when struck by a vehicle traveling 20 mph, about 40 percent for vehicles traveling 30 mph, about 80 percent for vehicles traveling 40 mph, and nearly 100 percent for speeds over 50 mph. This section is residential and has a large park with public swimming pool which generates a great deal of pedestrian traffic, including many children.