GRDadof3

Transit Updates for Greater Grand Rapids

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If they are talking about that many people being downtown. Can the case be made for LRT again? I don't know if it's been discussed. I know it ultimately take a good decade atleast. But with increasing numbers of residents and workers going downtown, wouldn't it make more sense to plan for density while we have a few annoying years of traffic congestion on the hill? At this point we are all pretty much used to it. Instead of doing what sounds tantamount to a 1970's hackjob, they should do something that could very much improve the future of the city for years to come.

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I see an underground rail terminal or transit centered terminal... A study suggest 400 commuters will be parking off site when Medical Mile is set and done.

Edited by Rizzo

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Not now, but 5-6 years down the road and thousands+thousands of people later. This should make for an interesting situation if this environment isn't figured out now.

Say to the 400 communters comming from "who-knows-where" that will have to park offsight... "What are you going to do?"

Edited by Rizzo

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One, that's pretty awesome that they are quoting some of you guys in outside articles...people really are reading and taking into consideration what's going on in the UP world.

...

Andy Guy is not just a MLUI'er, he's also a UP'er. And if memory serves, he might be one of those pedestrianizing commuters on Belknap.

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Thank goodness this is getting attention. I sure hope Grand Rapids' diversifying economy does turn us into mega-car dependent either with all of the development on health hill.

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Underground would suggest HRT. Grand Rapids is nowhere near ready for heavy rail, or anything sublevel.

Not nessecarily, San Diego has part of their light rail underground, one of their stations, too. They could just put the light rail under-grade under Health Hill, then have it come back up once it gets past the hill, essentially cutting through the hill.

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"The Michigan Health Hill area is not a transit-oriented development," said Pat Bush, public works director for the City of Grand Rapids. "I'm sure some planners would argue that. But patients and visitors are coming in from out of town. People with health issues don

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How do the planning commissioners get their positions? Or the MDOT folks, for that matter? Are any of these positions done by way of election? Or are they all appointed, and if so, who does the appointing? Given what seems to be a better use of money and also a better creation of a "new" Grand Rapids, a little propoganda and a few votes could go a long way towards making GR the city it should be.

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Is there a petition or something to let those in charge know what we want? Is this getting looked at again or what is the status on aproval for the MDOT plan?

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Andy Guy is not just a MLUI'er, he's also a UP'er. And if memory serves, he might be one of those pedestrianizing commuters on Belknap.

You're right Veloise. Andy Guy lives in Belknap Lookout, and I think he just lurks here. He also helps run the rapidgrowthmedia.net website as well.

Vexom and everyone else interested, I believe there is another scheduled meeting with the Belknap Lookout group and MDOT on August 30th according to Steve Faber. Steve has drawings of their proposed changes and even if they accept half of them, it will be pretty nice. You can shoot him a personal message to see how you can get involved:

bwindi25's profile

Just click on "Send a Personal Message".

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Sadly, too often departments such as the MDOT become "captives" of the auto industry (in the same way that the department of defense is often too easily influenced by military contractors). Now I'm not accusing any one of anything in this instance, but that has often been the case in other states and MI is probably no exception.

I really wonder if there is some way that us UPers could collective work to steer this MDOT proposal in a better direction. The proposal is really shocking, as others have already mentioned, it reads like a document that is 20 years old - it has absolutely no vision for the future of Grand Rapids

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Sadly, too often departments such as the MDOT become "captives" of the auto industry (in the same way that the department of defense is often too easily influenced by military contractors). Now I'm not accusing any one of anything in this instance, but that has often been the case in other states and MI is probably no exception.

I really wonder if there is some way that us UPers could collective work to steer this MDOT proposal in a better direction. The proposal is really shocking, as others have already mentioned, it reads like a document that is 20 years old - it has absolutely no vision for the future of Grand Rapids

Your best bet Bostonian is to get in touch with Steve. He is very active with Neighbors of Belknap Lookout, knows the area extremely well, and already has the ear of MDOT and the City. In other words, he already has a head start. However, he certainly could use all the help and support he can get. The chances of getting MDOT to change their plans to NOT widen I-196, College, and Michigan: slim to none. There is just too much political pressure on the Hill (which so much job creation for GR is hinging on) to stop that freight train. However, there is still a chance to lessen the blow to walkability in that area, and still make it an attractive area for people who are NOT travelling in their cars.

As Steve laid it out for me, Michigan from Monroe to College could be very well identified as an exciting new area of downtown. If Grand Rapids truly wants to become a world-class healthcare research destination, why not take the outdated planning techniques to a new level when it comes to this area? As Andy Guy pointed out in his article, every area of downtown that has seen streetscape improvements (bulb-outs, planters, trees, pavers, etc.) has also seen a subsequent revitalization. There's your proof that people are attracted to beautifully streetscaped areas.

As an example, look at the S-curve when it was rebuilt. The decorative sconces, specialty lighting treatments, warmer color tones, textured surfaces and street identifiers certainly make it look a lot better than a wall of concrete like it was before. Also, the reconfigured crossing and bus stop under the overpass by GVSU creates a natural shelter from some of the winter weather, and creates nice connectivity between the campus, the pedestrian bridge and downtown. Why not ask MDOT to take those same considerations (and others) into their plans for Health Care Hill? Especially for an area that will see probably the most number of visitors than any other downtown area.

Sure, people are going there mostly to visit sick loved ones, but isn't that exactly the reason to create a warm, beautiful and inviting area to come to, instead of a hostile intimidating concrete jungle.

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MDOT has a new division known has the Context Sensitive Street Division (or similar term). They are charged with making their streets more sensitive to the surrounding context, so that as M-21 comes into a downtown, it is not the same street section or design speed as when it is in the middle of nowhere.

Much has been made of this new division. A kinder, gentler MDOT.

I was at a charrette in Three Rivers Michigan, where a group of people from this group did a very nice presentation about context sensitive streets. Upon conclusion of the presentation, the first question from the business owners was about getting diagonal parking on main street (which was an MDOT R.O.W.). Their response was predictable, diagonal parking is not allowed. End of story. Too dangerous for the movement of traffic.

Likewise, on the Broadway and First townhomes (a separate thread on this forum), the city traffic safety department wants a 20' diagonal at each corner for views. Why?, because that is the rule. Not for any specified engineering purpose, but just because it is a rule. Even at one way streets where there is no view issues. Even though there is the existing nunnery which violates this rule. This will effectively water down the design, both urbanistically and architecturally.

It is all just BS.

And again, at the end of the day, when our urban places look more like suburban places, it will be because of this kind of thing. When the design of the public realm falls under the control of traffic engineers and fire chiefs.

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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.

michigandivisionstakeholderletterbt5.jpg

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How do the planning commissioners get their positions? Or the MDOT folks, for that matter? Are any of these positions done by way of election? Or are they all appointed, and if so, who does the appointing? Given what seems to be a better use of money and also a better creation of a "new" Grand Rapids, a little propoganda and a few votes could go a long way towards making GR the city it should be.

There's a PC thread in the Coffeehouse.

Keep in mind that MDOT trumps the locals. Cross Street in Ypsi happens to have a highway number designation, so MDOT wanted to keep it multi-lane, high speed, get that traffic through town fast! Only a few problems: the presence of EMU, associated student housing, tons of peds walking around. Logically, the speed should be 25 mph for those few blocks (people are going to slam on the brakes anyway when they see the water tower). Ypsi's planners have spent many years suggesting ped friendly renovations to Lansing, but those Friends of Pat Bush apparently never stop their cars during their windshield surveys.

I'm wondering about the claimed rationale for treating the Hill as a thoroughfare; to me it looks like a destination, not a drive-through express lane on a tollway. Channelling and slowing traffic can only be good for the many housestaff crossing and walking to the parking decks, and hospital visitors don't need to zip along like it's the Beltline.

Oh, wait, perhaps someone is trying to drum up some more business for the ER and the displaced auto body shop.

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...

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!

...

When MDOT constructed I-696 between Telegraph and wherever in Macomb (I am a westsider), they spent years getting input from the Orthodox community. There are a lot of pedestrians who needed to cross the freeway. Resultingly, instead of having multi-lane bridges with pathetic sidewalks every mile or those silly habitrail cages suspended over the traffic lanes, they provided huge blocks-wide plazas (parks on the street side, tunnels for the x-way) in several locations. Get off at the first Oak Park exit and check it out.

Just found this, from Oak Park IL:

http://www.oak-park.us/public/pdfs/Eisenho...tein%20parks%22

On about page 50 there's a summary of freeway capping projects throughout the country.

Edited by Veloise

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The Cap at Union Station in Columbus Ohio was a unique solution to this problem

the quote below is from this website:

http://www.continental-communities.com/pdf...0columbus%20%22

THE CAP AT UNION STATION

Reconnecting a town with its neighborhoods

New highways often divide communities, and bridges alone rarely solve the problem. All too frequently the divided neighborhoods develop separately, never to be reunited. The City of Columbus came up with a unique and daring solution to an old problem. Rather than creating new projects on either side of a major freeway, why not build a completely new shopping and entertainment facility right on top of it? The resulting Cap at Union Station is a $7.8 million retail development designed and built to reconnect downtown Columbus with its burgeoning Short North arts and entertainment district. The project, which opened in October 2004, effectively heals a 40-year scar created by the construction of an inner-belt highway. The void caused by the highway, called an "engineered gash" by New York Times architecture critic Herbert Muschamp, has been transformed into a seamless urban streetscape. Composed of three separate bridges - one for through-traffic across the highway, and one on either side for the retail structures - the Cap provides 2,369 square meters of leasable space, with nine retail shops and restaurants. The Cap is the first speculative urban in-fill retail project built on a bridge over a highway. Not only was it a significant engineering and administrative challenge, it was a legal one too with the city having to negotiate unique 'air rights' to build above the ground. There was no model to follow in the construction of the Cap, but the success of this innovative project could easily be replicated in the countless other cities across the world that have been divided by highways.

You can see an aerial view on this website:

http://www.melecaarchitecture.com/

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MDOT can do a good job. I was heavyily involved in the redesign of Grand River (M-43) through East Lansing about 7-8 years ago. While MDOT wouldn't buy parking on the street, the citizens group, through a charette process was able to get MDOT to reduce the number of lanes, add generous sidewalks and beautiful landscaping. There is hope. But the key is citizens involvement. In East Lansing, the citizens were often better informed than the MDOT staff on the project. Eventually, they had to listen to the truth.

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The Cap at Union Station in Columbus Ohio was a unique solution to this problem

the quote below is from this website:

http://www.continental-communities.com/pdf...0columbus%20%22

THE CAP AT UNION STATION

Reconnecting a town with its neighborhoods

New highways often divide communities, and bridges alone rarely solve the problem. All too frequently the divided neighborhoods develop separately, never to be reunited. The City of Columbus came up with a unique and daring solution to an old problem. Rather than creating new projects on either side of a major freeway, why not build a completely new shopping and entertainment facility right on top of it? The resulting Cap at Union Station is a $7.8 million retail development designed and built to reconnect downtown Columbus with its burgeoning Short North arts and entertainment district. The project, which opened in October 2004, effectively heals a 40-year scar created by the construction of an inner-belt highway. The void caused by the highway, called an "engineered gash" by New York Times architecture critic Herbert Muschamp, has been transformed into a seamless urban streetscape. Composed of three separate bridges - one for through-traffic across the highway, and one on either side for the retail structures - the Cap provides 2,369 square meters of leasable space, with nine retail shops and restaurants. The Cap is the first speculative urban in-fill retail project built on a bridge over a highway. Not only was it a significant engineering and administrative challenge, it was a legal one too with the city having to negotiate unique 'air rights' to build above the ground. There was no model to follow in the construction of the Cap, but the success of this innovative project could easily be replicated in the countless other cities across the world that have been divided by highways.

You can see an aerial view on this website:

http://www.melecaarchitecture.com/

:w00t: That is just really neat.

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Here are images of both projects:

The Cap

227339756_b528142873_o.jpg

Parks over 696 (done by MDOT):

227339753_94edb6fe10_o.jpg

At least we know that MDOT has been willing to work with citizens. So, how many people are going to be at Wednesday's meeting?

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The Cap at Union Station in Columbus Ohio was a unique solution to this problem

I have been in MDOT input sessions where this project (and pictures) has come up as an example. The Lansing planners usually get pretty excited...local guys, not so much.

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MDOT can do a good job. I was heavyily involved in the redesign of Grand River (M-43) through East Lansing about 7-8 years ago. While MDOT wouldn't buy parking on the street, the citizens group, through a charette process was able to get MDOT to reduce the number of lanes, add generous sidewalks and beautiful landscaping. There is hope. But the key is citizens involvement. In East Lansing, the citizens were often better informed than the MDOT staff on the project. Eventually, they had to listen to the truth.

Grand River looks a heckuva lot nicer now than it did when I was matriculating there. Almost park-like.

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