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Everything posted by bwindi25

  1. The next stage of planning and design has begun on Coit Bridge and corridor improvements like more sustainable landscape elements. Fundraising efforts are underway to make these improvements a reality. The City and MDOT have contributed to some additional structural improvements, including widening the bridge and 12ft sidewalks on the deck. But additional dollars (700k or so) will need to be raised to attempt to leverage another 1.5 million to get more sustainable landscape elements, fencing, and other aesthetic treatments. We're getting closer folks, but still some work to do.
  2. Sorry the resolution isn't better on these. These are the latest engineering study drawings I've seen for the overpass. It is my understanding that this is a preliminary study that they are working from. I think th 6 lanes are a given, but there is still some flex on sidewalk widths and the on-ramp access to the neighborhood. The first overhead shot shows 6 lanes of traffic. It also shows that the current cut-through into the Belknap Neighborhood at Hastings as being eleminated. This is still being explored as a possibility. If the route into the neighborhood remains open, then there will be a redesign to improve the safety. From a neighborhood perspective, there would also need to be some gateway elements and cues that people are entering a residential community, not Michigan Ave. The second drawing has the following dimensions working from left to center for the 6 lane bridge: 8ft sidewalk, 2 ft shy, 12ft lane, 12ft lane, 11ft lane. The current 5 lane configuration is 6ft sidewalk, 1ft shy, 11ft lane, 11ft lane and one 11ft center lane. Again, from a neighborhood perspective, I think we would advocate for a minimum of 10ft area for pedestrians. The city standard, as I understand it, is 14ft (3ft from buildings, 6ft sidewalk, 5ft parkway). This is obviously a little different from a downtown street scape, but there should be a buffer between the cars and pedestrians.
  3. The plans, as I've seen them drawn up, are for 6 lanes of traffic and 10ft sidewalks on either side. There is very little aesthetic character being talked about for this bridge as far as I can tell. Primarily because of the tight confines moving north and south and the accelerated timeline. If you have any input for this bridge, I would get it into MDOT right now.
  4. http://www.baconsaltblog.com/2007/10/bacon...CFQ66PAodajjhfw Here's a random one.... EDIT Sorry - just saw that the board has already been invaded by bacon salt news - behind as usual
  5. There is a Michigan Law called the Headlee Amendment that does cap the increase to the rate of inflation. That still means that property taxes continue to increase though. And even 3% incremental changes can affect people on fixed incomes. Additionally, when the property changes hands, a new assessed value is applied and property taxes jump. While that doesn't impact the current homeowner, it does potentially make that property less affordable for future residents and decreases the overall affordability of a neighborhood. My comments are not meant to be anti-gentrification. Gentrification on some levels are necessary to create more healthy and sustainable neighborhoods. When a neighborhood doesn't have middle-class families, the chances of sustaining any sort of neighborhood commercial and schools decreases significantly. The challenge is how to develop a neighborhood that continues to provide affordable rental and home-ownership opportunities, while allowing for middle and upper income households to find housing that meets their needs or desires. In many cases that is the role of nonprofit housing providers that can use gap financing and other tools to keep the cost of the home down. But in my neighborhood, these nonprofit housing providers struggle to get their foot in the door because of the speculative prices. They have a very tight margin to work with, and if they can't purchase a property for a reasonable amount of money, then their numbers will not work. I'm personally grateful that our community is taking a look at these sorts of issues and is willing to have tough conversations about the positives and negatives of redevelopment.
  6. Interesting set of posts Speed2fast. I was part of some Wealthy Street's work about 10 years ago. The work on the streetscape went hand in hand with the residential development. Any neighborhood desires to have signature projects that create a sense of place. I'm now almost a 10 year resident of Belknap. I see the Coit Bridge as a key building block in the continued redevelopment of Belknap Lookout. Is it the only building block? No. Coit School is another key building block. The neighborhood fought hard to rehab and rebuild Coit School several years ago. The parks are additional building blocks. These projects set the tone for additional redevelopment, including residential and commercial. One of the factors the neighborhood is dealing with is that many of the properties have been purchased by speculators, investors and landlords. I know families that would love to live up here, but houses just didn't make it to the open market before they were bought up. Or they were being sold for at a price that would leave little money left over for a homeowner to make needed repairs and improvements. With the rental market where it is, I don't think there are a lot of incentives to rehab or upgrade rental homes because it is very difficult to get that return on investment. I would also say that this neighborhood has a history as a working class, affordable community. Some of the "improvements" planned for this community will mean the displacement of long-term residents either because they get forced out by increased property taxes or choose to leave because they get offered big money for their homes. Many neighbors are concerned about not being able to live in this community any more once the changes happen. We've already seen a significant loss of homeowners on particular streets. You might call this the price of progress, but the neighborhood is trying to be very deliberate about how this change will happen. I'm personally very happy that our community is slowing down and being more deliberate about the kind of investment and neighborhood we want to live in. My hope is that it continues to be a neighborhood for all people with all incomes. That might mean it looks a little "dumpy" to someone driving through "2fast" for a little longer
  7. As a participant of the meeting, I think MDOT was unprepared for the number of participants and the depth of discussion the group was willing to have. I'm glad they are looking at subcommittees to further define the corridor and bridges. Unfortunately, the question is going to be resources. And you could already feel them trying to get peoples' expectations lowered so they don't have to be the big downer. I personally hope that they are open to additional funds to make this something special. I was also disappointed that they didn't bring more to the table from groups that have been looking at this issue for over 2 years. We didn't need to start from zero last night. My other comment refers to the weave/merge lanes. I think we are all bright enough to see that this is the poor mans way of freeway expansion. Just build enough weave/merge lanes and then connect them later, and wam-bam you got yourself 4 lanes of freeway. No one puts up a big fuss because they carve it up into bite sized pieces that everyone could swallow one little lane at a time. I wish they would just do it right the first time and give people something better. We deserve better.
  8. Solar Home Tour Saturday, Oct 6 2007, 10-4 There are several Greater Grand Rapids projects on this self-guided and free home and business tour. http://www.glrea.org/events/solarBuildingT...randRapids.html On the Tour: Newberry Place Hunting YMCA WMEAC Offices Green House on Watson Calvin College Wind Turbine MAREC GVSU Muskegon ...and others
  9. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/11/realesta...nted=1&_r=1 This came out in the NY Times Real Estate section today. EDIT: Thanks for merging my thread. It looks like I have to get up pretty early in the morning to beat Libertarian to a post
  10. I wonder where they will put the sign that says, "Welcome to the Grand Canyon" Maybe we can rent mules at the top of the hill and have them take us down to Monroe. Or they can invest in a glass floor sky walk on the 12th floor so people can venture out over the edge... OK, the wall isn't that bad, but it's not great either.
  11. City had plans for that, 13 switchbacks and very expensive...
  12. We floated all these options around and finally opted for this plan for a couple reasons: 1) Historic Preservation may work to preserve these existing, but unused stairs, originally constructed as a WPA project in the 30's 2) Where to "land" bridge on the other side? At the time, Founders was looking to move into Imperial Metals... 3) This plan moves the major ped. crossing farther North down Division for better visibility, slower speeds?, etc. 4) Combine it with a warning system like you are talking about "blinking amber light means slow down, pedestrians crossing ahead..." 5) More cost effective and to do a ped bridge right it takes a lot of money i.e. Calvin East Beltline Crossing This part of the plan can be built for about 350k MDOT was around the table as the plans were being developed, and we are in continued conversations with them as they plan for the I-196 expansion project in 2010. These bridges will need to be replaced as part of that plan, so why not replace them with something special...but the more voices asking for it, the better.
  13. The MOBL NOBL Design Charrette Results are completed and available at MOBL NOBL as well as neighborhood and project background information and articles. The goal of the MOBL NOBL (Neighbors of Belknap Lookout) initiative is to restore Belknap Lookout's rich tradition as a live-work community, encourage healthy lifestyles, and enhance neighborhood connections to adjacent jobs, entertainment, and commercial centers. Potential Projects: Restored Stairs at Newberry Ave. for connection to Monroe North Improved I-196 Overpass and Underpass connection to Pill Hill
  14. I would get used to the 1/2 billion dollar number. By the time the I-196 expansion project gets underway in 2010 and the College overpass and Michigan bridge (related but $ coming from somewhere else) get added in, I think it will even top this number.
  15. Yes, i did attend. There were several stakeholders from Pill Hill, the Belknap Lookout & Midtown neighborhood as well as many city staffers (and the mayor), and of course MDOT. Designs were about 30% along so there was a lot of opportunity for input. The 3 areas of discussion were 1) best scenarios for managing the construction and lane closures 2) pedestrian access on Michigan and Division 3) Design elements. The conversation was very open with three roundtables to discuss and give input on the items above. MDOT admitted this was a little new for them, but I think they were happy with the way things went. I think they new they needed to come with a plan that included ped and enhanced design because neighbors have hammered that home over the last 6 months in prior meetings. Outcomes: MDOT will be incorporating ideas and then coming back to the public when designs are farthur along. They are very limited in the space, but there were creative design solutions. Themes included tying the design into the rest of Michigan Street, providing ped access from Division up to Ionia and Michigan, 11 ft or greater sidewalks, Maintaining some traffic during construction, maintaining ped access on Division, treating the underpass with a more urban design, lighting, landscaping. So the ball is in their court and we will go from there. stay tuned
  16. The thing about the highway here is that it currently goes under College, over Lafayette and then back under Coit. Without digging away so that the highway goes under Lafayette (the BIG DIG GR), there isn't a lot of room for this big deck. You could build out to the west about 100-150 yrds as the highway drops into the valley, but to the east you only have 100 yards before things get really wacky. The neighborhood streets drop down from Coit to Lafayette. I could see Clancy street being the eastern edge of the deck. There are also some elevation issues between the Belknap side and the Michigan Side as the hill drops off to the south.
  17. I heard that the upcoming articles from the Michigan Land Use Institute on Health Hill are going to profile such developments in other cities... so stay tuned to MLUI
  18. There would also be a great opportunity to put a rail stop at where the tracks head under College Ave at Highland Park. In the mobility design charrette we are completing for this area, we are proposing a linear park along I-196 from College Ave up to a little beyond Coit Ave. People could get off at the College stop and have a nice park walk up to the hospital if they didn't want to cross I-196 with 7 lanes of traffic at College or walk down Michigan (although it might be nice to grab your morning cup of joe at Bagel Beanery).
  19. Below is the invitation to the upcoming MDOT input session for the Michigan bridge and College Ave on August 30, 2006 5:30-7:30. There is an RSVP in there some where, but I'm sure folks could just show up. Some of the questions/concepts we are trying to bring to the table are: MICHIGAN BRIDGE 5 Lane Expansion: How does the Michigan Bridge work as a gateway to Downtown coming south, or Monroe North going north? The Christman Towers project will have one of it's entrance/exits right near here on Division. How does that work with the proposed design and pedestrian traffic? On Michigan, how does the Bridge continue the look and feel of this being a distinct and special place in Grand Rapids? If we extend our thinking of Pill Hill stretching from the College Ave area all the way down the Hill to Monroe and the Convention Center, how does this Bridge fit the character of this area? COLLEGE BRIDGE 7 Lane Expansion: What does this expansion do to the character of the neighborhoods directly to the North and South? In a 1/2 mile stretch, College will go from 2 lanes to 7 lanes to 2 lanes to 1 way traffic. Does that all work together? Our Wish List for College: Provide wide (8' minimum walkable space) sidewalks to cross I-196 at the College Ave Provide a separation wall between the pedestrian and vehicle traffic for sidewalks Create neighborhood gateways (special landscape and hardscape treatments) where appropriate Maintain safe pedestrian connection across the proposed College Ave lane reconfigurations. Use additional landscaping to soften the urban highway character. Continue pedestrian walkability and streetscape character From a neighborhood perspective, College is going to be a zoo. We are hoping that Coit Bridge and Lafayette Underpass become the more pedestrian friendly and enjoyable ways of getting over and under I-196 for neighborhood traffic. College still needs to be ped friendly, but it will be much less attractive for people to use as a crossing. 7 Lanes is whole-ot-o-traffic! If anyone from UP is interested in these concepts, or your own ideas for improving the design, please let them be known to MDOT. It sounds like they are very open to these ideas, but for reasons already stated in this post, sometimes have their hands tied. They (and traffic safety and fire dept) need to keep hearing a consistant message and have the backing of the people, so they are more willing to stick their neck out.
  20. I think we are working for the common good, or at least that's what we are hoping for. The simple answer is that the City designation for the boundaries of the Neighbors of Belknap Lookout neighborhood association are the river to College and Leonard to Michigan. Monroe-North is a business association that resides in the boundaries of the neighborhood assoc. MOBL NOBL is a small intiative started by area stakeholders. The point of the MOBL NOBL design charrette and initiative is to encourage the connections between Monroe-North area, the Lookout Hill area and Michigan. Our steering committee for the MOBL NOBL design charrette includes representatives from all these areas and stakeholders have all been invited (we had several business and residents from Monroe-North participate). We have also been keeping Monroe-North informed of the work in several ways. MOBL NOBL is looking at a very small piece of the bigger picture, neighborhood connections and mobility. So far we are just looking at 4-5 projects (stairs, overpass, underpass, linear park, trail networks) These are the connection points between the areas. We are just trying to encourage thoughtful design where the various areas of the neighborhood intersect. Monroe-North and Michigan will be conducting their own design work as part of the smart zone, MOBL NOBL is attempting to align with those efforts. We are also trying to get all interested parties informed as to the major changes that impact everyone in the area (MDOT) The designs are still in the works. There will be some additional meetings coming up to talk about the charrettes and designs. I will be happy to post pictures as they become available.
  21. Seattle set a vision about 10 years ago that they would have the fewest pedestrian deaths of any city in the nation. That vision has guided their planning, hence the pedestrian right-of-way. The department responsible for pedestrian and bike planning actually has some guts and authority also. Here is a link to other pedestrian laws that Seattle has instituted. http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/pedrcw.htm So, where's our vision and who has authority to carry it out?
  22. Other Belknap Stats: -7.4% of residents travel to work by public transport (2000) (grand rapids = 2.4%, kent county = 1.1%) -18.5% of residents are employed in personal care/service occupation (kent county 13.3%) (2000) -27.3% of residents are employed in production occupations (2000) (kent county 20.7%) -Total Population = 4,234 people (US Census 2000) -Race: 52.9% white, 23.2% black, 15.6% hispanic or latino (2000) -Age: 32% of population is under 18 -and- 7% of population is over 65 (kent county = 25% -&- 10%) (2000) -Average amount of mortgage loans for home purchases in the neighborhood = $100,872 (2003) -62.5% of households have moved into their housing units since 1995 (2003) Some other stats about why multiple modes of transit besides cars are important to people and neighborhoods: -77% of new economy companies rate access to mass public transit as an extremely important factor in deciding where to locate, according to a recent survey conducted by Jones Lang LaSalle, a worldwide real estate and financial management firm. -Absent a change in current development trends, Grand Rapids residents can expect their average travel time to double by the year 2015, according to the March 1998 Long Range Public Transportation Plan prepared by the Grand Valley Metro Council. -Freeway congestion will increase 1000% by 2015 under current development patterns, according to a 1996 report prepared by the Grand Rapids Area Transit Authority. -Roughly 47,000 people a year are killed in auto accidents, including 5,000,000 injuries and 1,800,000 of those disabling. The same study quantifies the cost of all accidents at $358 billion dollars annually. -The average car costs its owner $6,100 a year to keep on the road. -The United States spends nearly $200 million a day constructing, improving and rehabilitating streets and roads.
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