Converting a one-way street to two-way traffic is the subject of Kalamazoo Open Houses

KALAMAZOO, MI — Planning for the conversion of one-way Kalamazoo Avenue to a two-way street will begin with a series of community engagement events starting this week, the City of Kalamazoo said.

Awareness events are planned in the Stuart, Northside and Downtown neighborhoods. City staff will seek feedback on what amenities community members would like to see in the final design, the city said.

Construction to convert Kalamazoo Avenue to accommodate two-way traffic is expected to take place in 2024 and 2025, the city said in a news release. The design process is currently underway and community feedback will be an essential part of the design, the city said.

Design work is expected to take approximately 18 months.

In May, the Kalamazoo City Commission approved nearly $1 million for the design phase of the Kalamazoo Avenue project.

Including other streets that need to be modified, construction costs to transform the downtown Kalamazoo road network are estimated to be about $30 million in total, Utilities Manager James Baker previously said.

The Kalamazoo Avenue project will include surface streetscape work and updating utilities, some of which are over 100 years old. The project will include smart traffic signals, transit improvements and pedestrian improvements.

Streetscape work could also include lighting, marked crosswalks and signage, pedestrian exits, benches, street trees and other amenities.

Staff from Community Planning and Economic Development and City Utilities will be available at each open house to discuss ideas. Activities are also planned to help generate ideas.

The following meetings are scheduled for the coming weeks:

  • Stuart, Douglas and West Main Hill neighborhoods open house: 6-8 p.m., Thursday, July 28, at Station #5, 619 Douglas Avenue. Meeting with staff, mapping activity, walking activity from 7 p.m.
  • NACD National Night Out: 4-7 p.m. Tuesday, August 2, at the Northside Association for Community Development (NACD), 612 Park Street. Meeting with staff, Lego table and cartographic activity.
  • Art Hop: 5-8 p.m. Friday, August 5 at the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, Ste 203. Meet the staff, map the activity.
  • Arcadia Creek Festival Site: 4:30-6:30 p.m. Friday, August 19 at the Arcadia Creek Festival Site, 145 E. Water Street. Meeting with staff, walking activity at 5:30 p.m., games, Lego table.
  • Noon hour live! events: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. August 5, 12, 19 and 26 at Bronson Park, 200 S. Rose Street. Meeting with the staff, activity on the map.
  • Business Open Town Hall: 2-3 p.m. Tuesday, August 23, at the Catalyst Center, 180 E Water St. Meet and greet with staff.

All events are open house style. Attendance at the entire event is not required. Each event (excluding Business Town Hall) will include a raffle for a $25 gift card to a participating business in the Stuart, Northside or Downtown neighborhoods.

The overall “Streets for All” project aims to redesign several major streets in Kalamazoo to create a network of streets that meets community needs, promotes safe transportation for all modes, and fosters more vibrant public places.

Beginning in 1965, many streets in downtown Kalamazoo were converted from two-way traffic to one-way traffic with wide freeway-like lanes. These streets create barriers for many Kalamazoo residents and visitors — pedestrians, drivers and cyclists, the city said.

“After decades of discussion, clear direction from the Imagine Kalamazoo Master Plan, and the transfer of control of these streets to the City of Kalamazoo by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) in 2019, the city has an opportunity to rethink the how the streets operate and transform downtown Kalamazoo and surrounding neighborhoods,” the City of Kalamazoo said.

For more information on the city project, visit www.imaginekalamazoo.com/projects/streetsforall.

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