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Transit Updates for Greater Grand Rapids

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MDoT has $400 Million lined up for this project?? That would pretty easily get a LRT line that could run the length of Michigan/Bridge street, eliminate the need for all the underground parking currently under construction, eliminate the need for highway expansion (and the increased pollution that comes with it), keep what little walk-ability Michigan street has, and attract educated professionals.

Instead we are going to widen a highway that doesnt need it? I drive 196 around 5 PM almost everyday and even with the construction it

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MDoT has $400 Million lined up for this project?? That would pretty easily get a LRT line that could run the length of Michigan/Bridge street, eliminate the need for all the underground parking currently under construction, eliminate the need for highway expansion (and the increased pollution that comes with it), keep what little walk-ability Michigan street has, and attract educated professionals.

Instead we are going to widen a highway that doesnt need it? I drive 196 around 5 PM almost everyday and even with the construction it

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My grandpa can hook us up with an locomotive engineer and if we have about a some millions we can get the hook up from my step-grandpa, I think he has railed some heavy diesel and passenger cars.

Edited by Rizzo

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The one idea I mentioned to Steve was that I've always thought the railroad track that runs under I-96 near the Beltline, heading toward downtown, would be a great place to add a "park-n-ride" LRT. That MDOT ride share lot there is always full (in fact I think it was just doubled in size recently), so possibly there could be a need for people commuting into downtown. There's even a large chuck of vacant commercial land off of Michigan/E Beltline that could serve as a station or possible TOD. Then it could jog off of the that track and go right up Michigan. It would be a heckuva lot cheaper than starting a new line from scratch.

That rail line gets used maybe twice a day. I would also imagine a great deal of Doctors will be coming from the Cascade/Ada area as well.

Thats exactly what I was thinking. Huge Park-N-Ride at the beltline and I-96.

That existing rail line would be perfect in that it wouldn't have any ROW issues and would miss all the lights on Michigan. It could probably get close to running as fast as traffic on that existing line. The best part is that it would have between 5,000-10,000 dailey hospital employee riders built in. I dont think you could ask for a better opportunity to build a new fixed route system.

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MDoT has $400 Million lined up for this project?? That would pretty easily get a LRT line that could run the length of Michigan/Bridge street, eliminate the need for all the underground parking currently under construction, eliminate the need for highway expansion (and the increased pollution that comes with it), keep what little walk-ability Michigan street has, and attract educated professionals.

Instead we are going to widen a highway that doesnt need it? I drive 196 around 5 PM almost everyday and even with the construction it

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Thats exactly what I was thinking. Huge Park-N-Ride at the beltline and I-96.

That existing rail line would be perfect in that it wouldn't have any ROW issues and would miss all the lights on Michigan. It could probably get close to running as fast as traffic on that existing line. The best part is that it would have between 5,000-10,000 dailey hospital employee riders built in. I dont think you could ask for a better opportunity to build a new fixed route system.

The one issue Gary is that the rail line breaks and heads North toward the Creston neighborhood. You'd have to cross over this industrial site (I can't think of what is there now) near Michigan and Houseman to get to Michigan. But then from there, you'd only have the College and Coit traffic lights to contend with, and the slight incline up Michigan. Michigan is quite wide for a two lane street between Houseman and College (some people think it's 4 lanes :lol: ). It'd be nice to have it extend all the way to Division to catch the dreamed "Downtown Circulator" streetcar.

But you're right. If they think that the projected increased traffic warrants added lanes, why couldn't that slack be taken up by a transit system and just repave I-196.

227479730_80f147eac2_o.jpg

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Thats exactly what I was thinking. Huge Park-N-Ride at the beltline and I-96.

That existing rail line would be perfect in that it wouldn't have any ROW issues and would miss all the lights on Michigan. It could probably get close to running as fast as traffic on that existing line. The best part is that it would have between 5,000-10,000 dailey hospital employee riders built in. I dont think you could ask for a better opportunity to build a new fixed route system.

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).

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I wouldn't mind widening I-196 at all. It's there and they already have the right of way. I think it might be cool if they made it a double-decker highway and used the leftover space for a rail line, but maybe that'll happen the next time they rebuild it.

That cap idea would be really great for Detroit where the entire Downtown is sliced up by freeways. That could work in Grand Rapids where the freeway is below grade like on the hill.

-nb

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I've added a park over 196 to connect the Belknapp Neighborhood to Spectrum and access to downtown. If the the image looks familiar I've recycled a sketchup file I've previously posted on a closely related thread to save time. Seeing how this looks I like the idea of covering the highway with ether retail or a park like this.

post-11190-1156808382_thumb.jpg

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It's an interesting idea and a good sketch but I think to make it accessible, the park spanning the highway would have to be built level with both sides of the road, Ie. one continuous greenspace, with no wall to chop up the continuity.

It's an interesting idea though. I had never seen anything like this until I saw this thread. It sure could bring areas "orphaned" by the building of expressways back into the city proper (like Belknap hill).

Joe

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Speaking of being "orphaned" by a highway, look at Arlington Heights just north of Cincinnati. The city was cut off by I-75 with the southbound lanes on the west and the northbound lanes on the east. The highway was split to preserve the town, but it really just cut the entire city off!

-nb

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It seems many have assumed that MDOT is going to be rebuilding all of Michigan St and College Ave. If you read the invitation to the public hearing, the only projects mentioned are:

- Michigan St bridge over Division Ave (Business US-131)

- College Ave bridge over I-196

- Some additional turn lanes on part of Division Ave

MDOT is responsible for these bridges because they are above a state-maintained highway. If the Michigan St bridge is going to be replaced, it would not make sense to build a narrow bridge, especially when the rest of the road is already 6 lanes wide. Widening the College Ave bridge to 7 lanes does not make as much sense to me, but I can see a use for up to 6 lanes at that point.

The rest of Michigan St and College Ave are city streets, not highways, and therefore MDOT would have nothing to do with changes along these roads. That would be up to the City of Grand Rapids, and I doubt they have plans to make Michigan St any wider. In fact, it would be almost impossible to do in a few places where the buildings are already quite close to the road, such as the area just east of Coit Ave.

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It seems many have assumed that MDOT is going to be rebuilding all of Michigan St and College Ave. If you read the invitation to the public hearing, the only projects mentioned are:

- Michigan St bridge over Division Ave (Business US-131)

- College Ave bridge over I-196

- Some additional turn lanes on part of Division Ave

MDOT is responsible for these bridges because they are above a state-maintained highway. If the Michigan St bridge is going to be replaced, it would not make sense to build a narrow bridge, especially when the rest of the road is already 6 lanes wide. Widening the College Ave bridge to 7 lanes does not make as much sense to me, but I can see a use for up to 6 lanes at that point.

The rest of Michigan St and College Ave are city streets, not highways, and therefore MDOT would have nothing to do with changes along these roads. That would be up to the City of Grand Rapids, and I doubt they have plans to make Michigan St any wider. In fact, it would be almost impossible to do in a few places where the buildings are already quite close to the road, such as the area just east of Coit Ave.

We were specifically talking about the overpasses and bridges (oh and a new light rail line). The main concern is that when you widen a road to 7 lanes, how much do you leave for pedestrians (4 feet, 8 feet, 10 feet??). And when you widen a highway that runs over a city street, how does that impact the street below? Does it turn into a scary concrete viaduct (like some of the tunnels under 131) that no pedestrian in their right mind would wander into? And how are these bridges and overpasses viewed as "gateways" into downtown and other areas? Are they used as an opportunity and made attractive, or completly utilitarian?

What do you think could be presented to MDOT to enhance the quality of the end product? The more ideas the better.

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What do you think could be presented to MDOT to enhance the quality of the end product? The more ideas the better.

This is more of an argument against their current plan rather than a new idea, but here goes anyway.

Has the MDOT examined case studies of other similar "health cities"? I know for a fact that the Longwood Medical Area in Boston (which is host to Beth Israel, Harvard Med, Tufts Med and several other hospitals) is extremely pedestrian and public-transportation oriented. I don;t know about places in Minneapolis, NC, and others...perhaps others here do.

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

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We were specifically talking about the overpasses and bridges (oh and a new light rail line). The main concern is that when you widen a road to 7 lanes, how much do you leave for pedestrians (4 feet, 8 feet, 10 feet??). And when you widen a highway that runs over a city street, how does that impact the street below? Does it turn into a scary concrete viaduct (like some of the tunnels under 131) that no pedestrian in their right mind would wander into? And how are these bridges and overpasses viewed as "gateways" into downtown and other areas? Are they used as an opportunity and made attractive, or completly utilitarian?

What do you think could be presented to MDOT to enhance the quality of the end product? The more ideas the better.

I'm certainly not going to argue that bigger is always better, especially with roads, and I'm not advocating turning every road into a highway. But in this case, especially with Michigan St, matching the bridge to the rest of the roadway is certainly more desireable than the way it is now, and I would assume that is what MDOT is planning to do. As for I-196, it really does need to be three lanes in each direction for the traffic volumes it currently sees, and in fact probably should have been widened years ago. Widening the freeway may also reduce the burden on surrounding streets such as Michigan St, a benefit to pedestrians. It should probably be noted that much of the widening will come from removal of the narrow grass median that currently exists, similar to what has been done on US-131 in recent years, and therefore the impact on pedestrians would be very minimal. Also, the eastbound side going up the hill is already three lanes, so that probably would not change.

That being said, I agree completely that it is critical for these bridges to work for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists alike. Regardless of the number of lanes there must be also be sufficient space for other transportation modes, more than what currently exists on these overpasses/underpasses. Widening the roads and sidewalks at the underpasses would reduce the tunnel effect, as would providing some additional lighting under the bridge. Based on what MDOT has done in recent years with the S-curve and the new overpasses at the I-96/36th St interchange, I'm guessing these bridges will have some attractive features and not be entirely utilitarian. Certainly they are very visible as people come into the downtown area, and should portray the city in a positive way.

I think the biggest thing MDOT needs to remember is that this project is downtown, and therefore it needs to be safe for not just motorists, but also for pedestrians and bicycles, and it also must be visually appealing and comfortable for those not driving cars. I will be very interested to see what they are planning to do.

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I've added a park over 196 to connect the Belknap Neighborhood to Spectrum and access to downtown. If the the image looks familiar I've recycled a sketchup file I've previously posted on a closely related thread to save time. Seeing how this looks I like the idea of covering the highway with ether retail or a park like this.

post-11190-1156808382_thumb.jpg

Does your deck extend from Coit to College?

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I'm certainly not going to argue that bigger is always better, especially with roads, and I'm not advocating turning every road into a highway. But in this case, especially with Michigan St, matching the bridge to the rest of the roadway is certainly more desireable than the way it is now, and I would assume that is what MDOT is planning to do. As for I-196, it really does need to be three lanes in each direction for the traffic volumes it currently sees, and in fact probably should have been widened years ago. Widening the freeway may also reduce the burden on surrounding streets such as Michigan St, a benefit to pedestrians. It should probably be noted that much of the widening will come from removal of the narrow grass median that currently exists, similar to what has been done on US-131 in recent years, and therefore the impact on pedestrians would be very minimal. Also, the eastbound side going up the hill is already three lanes, so that probably would not change.

That being said, I agree completely that it is critical for these bridges to work for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists alike. Regardless of the number of lanes there must be also be sufficient space for other transportation modes, more than what currently exists on these overpasses/underpasses. Widening the roads and sidewalks at the underpasses would reduce the tunnel effect, as would providing some additional lighting under the bridge. Based on what MDOT has done in recent years with the S-curve and the new overpasses at the I-96/36th St interchange, I'm guessing these bridges will have some attractive features and not be entirely utilitarian. Certainly they are very visible as people come into the downtown area, and should portray the city in a positive way.

I think the biggest thing MDOT needs to remember is that this project is downtown, and therefore it needs to be safe for not just motorists, but also for pedestrians and bicycles, and it also must be visually appealing and comfortable for those not driving cars. I will be very interested to see what they are planning to do.

If I were a bettin man, I'd guess they'll go completely utilitarian unless "pressured" to do otherwise. They do work for the government after all. The added features to the S-curve only came about after massive input from the City and citizens. I believe the decorative features to the 36th/96 interchange only came about due to pressure from Cascade Twp. Same with the parks over 696 in Oak Park.

I really like the idea of tamias's park over the highway. Imagine the difference that would make if there were a park overlooking the valley and downtown from Coit to about 1/2 way West into the Med Hill complex (before the grade difference became too great)? And imagine having that complex of buildings butt up against a park that patients and visitors can use, in addition to Belknap residents, as opposed to overlooking traffic.

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Does your deck extend from Coit to College?

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.

Edited by bwindi25

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There is definitely opportunity to rebuild all of the overpasses with an understanding of pedestrian and cyclists needs, but there also opportunity to have some fun with it.

It would be great to have the Coit overpass be more fun. Like the Dan Ryan overpass at 32nd Street in Chicago.

052604_whitesox.jpg

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Buses might not be the "fastest" tranist in Grand Rapids, but I saw this article and thought it would be appropiate to post. If there is a better thread, I couldn't find it, sorry.

"A new logo was unveiled Wednesday for the new Grand Rapids buses to bring consistency between the central station and the buses on the street."

The article states that they will have 14 new busses on the road by the end of September. You can read the complete story on Wood TV 8 website.

http://www.woodtv.com/Global/story.asp?S=5345383

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Buses might not be the "fastest" tranist in Grand Rapids, but I saw this article and thought it would be appropiate to post. If there is a better thread, I couldn't find it, sorry.

"A new logo was unveiled Wednesday for the new Grand Rapids buses to bring consistency between the central station and the buses on the street."

The article states that they will have 14 new busses on the road by the end of September. You can read the complete story on Wood TV 8 website.

http://www.woodtv.com/Global/story.asp?S=5345383

Nice! Matches the wavy new MDOT overpasses.

(FWIW, "bussing" is slang for something else.)

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So did anyone attend the MDOT meeting? Were any alternatives discussed? I really wanted to attend but I had the opportunity to walk through the new Metropolitan Hospital (looking good btw).

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So did anyone attend the MDOT meeting? Were any alternatives discussed? I really wanted to attend but I had the opportunity to walk through the new Metropolitan Hospital (looking good btw).

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

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