Proving that we haven’t forgotten about Michigan’s upper half, we here at the Michigan Complete Streets Coalition want to share some good news from the Upper Penninsula’s most populous city.
Marquette residents awoke two weeks ago to find their city a bit more walk- and bike-friendly. On October 29th, road workers completed a resurfacing project on a one-mile portion of Wright Street, which runs east to west on the city’s north end.
Aside from resurfacing, the project also included work to reconfigure Wright Street, taking it from four lanes of traffic down to two lanes and a center turn lane, with room leftover to add four-foot wide bike lanes on either side. Engineers across the country are putting roads like Wright Street on a “road diet”, finding out in the process that their streets become leaner, safer, and more efficient.
Based on their comments, city officials seem hesitant about committing to the reconfiguration as anything more than a temporary experiment. But if the Wright Street experiment is anything like other road diet projects, city officials will soon be singing the praises of fewer crashes and improved safety. In fact, the data shows that using road diets and complete streets planning principles not only makes the our streets safer and more productive, it can also help encourage increases in commercial and residential property values, and can spur new development.
Kudos to Marquette city officials for taking that kind of risk.