BY BTL STAFF
BIRMINGHAM – Birmingham is getting a facelift. The city is ready to launch a $3.5 million plan to upgrade a key section of Old Woodward in the downtown shopping district.
A complete reconstruction of the road between Willits and Brown streets is tentatively set to begin in March. The project extends from building front to building front on each side of Old Woodward and includes significant upgrades to the streetscape, along with ADA improvements to the crosswalks and curbs, Hometown Life is reporting.
“This is the road that runs thought the heart of the city and we just want to make sure we spend the time to get it right,” City Manager Joe Valentine said Dec. 6 according to the Birmingham Patch.
The improvements are long overdue. Some of the infrastructure underground dates back more than 100 years. Reconstructing the entire road also allows the city to narrow the traffic lanes and widen the sidewalks for improved pedestrian flow. New streetlights, planters and benches are included in the project.
“It’s quite a substantial project,” Birmingham Mayor Mark Nickita said. “It will significantly improve the roadway, along with the pedestrian experience.”
The city commission voted Dec. 5 to approve two key elements of the design: narrowing the road from 70 feet to 66 feet and sticking with front-end angled parking rather than switching to rear-end angled parking.
Right now, Old Woodward has one traffic lane going in each direction; each lane is about 20 feet wide. The new roadway will have a 13-foot-wide traffic lane in each direction, plus a narrow center turn lane that will be able to remove delivery from the travel lanes, accommodate parking movements and collect snow in the winter.
“That’s the driving factor in maintaining a center lane,” Valentine said. “The delivery trucks need a safe space to park in front of the store, where they can make deliveries without blocking traffic.”
The new configuration allows the city to add several feet of sidewalk space on each side of the road. Additional bump outs are being planned at some of the key intersections, such as Maple and Old Woodward, for improved pedestrian crossing.
Traffic consultants working on the plan say navigating the sidewalk along parts of Old Woodward can be a challenging experience during certain times of the day. The city ordinance requires shop owners to keep at least five feet of the sidewalk clear for pedestrians. The additional space will create about 10 feet of travel space for pedestrians.
BY BTL STAFF