What construction is planned on West Mitchell Street in 2014?
When will construction take place?
Why are these improvements needed?
How do the street improvements done this year related to the 2014 MDOT project?
Won't an additional traffic light just slow down traffic on the highway?
What is the purpose of the center medians?
How will emergency vehicles be impacted by the center median?
Has there been public input into these plans?
Where did the concept originate?
I've heard that Madison Street is going to be closed, is this true?
Will the width or configuration of the sidewalks change as part of this project?

 

What construction is planned on West Mitchell Street in 2014?

In the spring of 2014 MDOT will be making improvements to West Mitchell Street from the US-31/131 intersection to the West Mitchell Street bridge. These improvements will include access management improvements, repaving the highway from the US-131 intersection to Liberty Street, and repairs to the Mitchell Street bridge.

As part of these improvements MDOT will be re-aligning the Connable intersection at the highway to permit left hand turns into and out of the hospital at a signalized intersection, a new traffic signal will be installed at Ingalls and West Mitchell Street, and center medians will be constructed in the highway between Jackson Street and Ingalls Avenue that will define where left hand turns can occur.

When will construction take place?

MDOT anticipates starting work on the Mitchell Street bridge in early March 2014. All work on the highway, including repaving and access management improvements, is planned to be completed by July 1, 2014.

Why are these improvements needed?

The improvements will increase pedestrian and vehicle safety. When the highway was designed in the early 1960's it carried approximately 10,000 cars daily. Today, summer traffic volumes can reach 40,000 cars per day. Roadways that accommodated 1960's traffic volumes have become strained with the number of cars traveling on the highway today.

There is also a need for a signalized intersection that allows left hand turns off of and onto US-31 to serve the hospital and emergency room.. The existing traffic light at Madison Street intersects the highway at an awkward angle that prevents left hand turns from West Mitchell Street, and causes left turn conflicts for vehicles entering the highway from Madison Street.

The 2014 improvements will also improve pedestrian safety and provide better access across the highway for residents and visitors trying to reach the City's waterfront. West Mitchell Street currently lacks a safe and convenient highway crossing for pedestrians. The current length of the Madison Street pedestrian crossing has been the source of complaints from pedestrians who sometimes aren't able to fully cross the highway during the green light. The re-aligned Connable intersection will shorten this pedestrian crossing and move it further to the south and closer to the area near the hospital where many pedestrians are crossing the highway currently.

Additionally, the signalized intersection at Ingalls will provide an additional safe highway crossing for pedestrians, and give the West Side and West Lake Street neighborhoods access to the highway at a signalized intersection.

How do the street improvements done this year relate to the 2014 MDOT project?

In 2013, in anticipation of MDOT's 2014 highway improvements, the City oversaw the reconstruction of portions of Ingalls Avenue, Madison, Monroe and Connable. Underground utilities, including water and sewer mains that run across the highway were replaced at Connable, Ingalls and Jackson Streets. By completing this utility work in 2013 the City aimed to shorten the timeline for construction on US-31 in the spring of 2014.

As part of the 2013 construction projects, the intersection of Connable and Monroe was reconfigured to restrict access to the highway and help prevent vehicle conflicts where those streets met US-31. Additionally, MDOT coordinated the installation of traffic light bases at Ingalls Avenue, eliminating the need to excavate these areas next spring when traffic lights are installed at the intersection.

Won't an additional traffic light just slow down traffic on the highway?

Unlike the existing traffic light at Madison Street, the new traffic signals will only change if activated from a vehicle on a side street or a pedestrian push button. Traffic studies showed that these improvements would actually improve traffic flows at non-peak times, and have only a small impact on traffic wait times generally.

It is also important to remember that the new traffic signals are designed to improve access onto and across the highway for residents and businesses in the area. The inability to safely and efficiently turn left onto the highway is something that many of us unfortunately have gotten used to. Similarly, pedestrians and bicyclists currently struggle to cross the highway safely from the West Side to the waterfront. These safety issues are being addressed thru the installation of the new traffic signals.

What is the purpose of the center medians?

The center medians will help better define where left hand turns can occur. These median areas will extend from just north of Jackson Street to an area just past the existing Madison Street intersection. Currently there are a variety of areas throughout the corridor where potential left-hand turning conflicts exist between vehicles traveling in opposite directions. The center medians will define these left-hand turning areas and ensure that vehicles turning left will not be faced with head-on conflicts from vehicles traveling in the opposite direction.

How will emergency vehicles be impacted by the center median?

The two center medians total approximately 500 feet in length, and are on segments of highway near the hospital that already have two travel lanes in each direction. Compared to other segments of US-31 and 131 that are only one lane in each direction, there should be plenty of room for vehicles to pull to the right to let emergency vehicles pass, if necessary.

Has there been public input into these plans?

There were public meetings where input was given at the July 21, 2011 Planning Commission meeting, at the November 10, 2011 joint Planning Commission and City Council meeting, and at the November 21, 2011 City Council meeting where the 2012-2017 Capital Improvements Plan was approved. In addition MDOT held a public meeting on August 27, 2012 to solicit public feedback about the project.  In addition, City staff has met individually with many businesses throughout the corridor. As a result of these meetings significant changes have been made to the plans that will be constructed in 2014. Most notably, right turn access onto and from Madison Street at US-31 was re-introduced into the construction plans based on public feedback.

Other changes have also been made based on feedback: turning radii at Madison Street and Ingalls Avenue were enlarged to better accommodate truck turning movements, an access drive that will be constructed at the 5/3 Bank building to provide better access to the traffic light at Connable was modified, parking spaces were modified on Ingalls Avenue, a driveway was closed on US-31 at the hospital billing office near Ingalls based on employee feedback, and a new sidewalk was installed on Monroe Street along with the undergrounding of overhead utilities.

Where did the concept originate?

The concept closely mirrors plans that were developed over a year-long process for the Access Management Plan that was approved by MDOT and the Petoskey Planning Commission in 2011. Many of the concepts originated from a desire to not only keep traffic moving on the highway, but also provide a safe way for pedestrians and motorists to cross the highway.

The new traffic light at Ingalls Avenue, for example, provides a safe way for businesses and their customers to access the highway, and will provide residents a safe way to cross the highway and access the City's waterfront. Other proposed changes came from a close examination of intersections and driveways throughout the corridor, many of which do not meet modern traffic design standards.

I've heard that Madison Street is going to be blocked at the highway, is this true?

No. Madison Street was shown as being closed in early concept drawings, but based on public feedback these plans were revised. The east side of Madison Street will be realigned to "T" into the highway, and right turns onto Madison Street as well as right turns from Madison Street onto US-31 will be permitted.

Will the width or configuration of the sidewalks change as part of this project?

The width of the sidewalks will remain unchanged at 6'1" wide.  The current bridge railing has several "bump-outs" that effectively create a wider sidewalk space where the sidewalk is about a foot wider.  As part of construction, in order to meet modern safety standards for crash protection and railings, the new bridge railing will run straight across the bridge, meaning that the sidewalk after construction will maintain a uniform 6'1" width.  This narrow sidewalk width makes the installation of pedestrian barriers very difficult without effectively restricting two-way pedestrian or bicycle traffic on the bridge.  Sidewalks must also be at least 6 feet wide in order for snow blowing equipment to access the walkway.