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GRDadof3

Highway and Road Construction Updates

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Anyone else think we need some new traffic lights in Heartside, especially once Studio Park opens? Those four way stops are already becoming problematic,  including for pedestrians.

I'm thinking:

  • Grandville/Oakes
  • Grandville/Cherry
  • Commerce/Oakes
  • Commerce/Cherry
  • Ionia/Oakes
  • Ottawa/Oakes (once Ottawa becomes a through street)

North of Fulton in the downtown area, we have traffic lights at basically every intersection. Heartside is now vibrant enough (more vibrant than "Center City" in some places) that it needs the same treatment. 

Edited by Khorasaurus1
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6 hours ago, Khorasaurus1 said:

Anyone else think we need some new traffic lights in Heartside, especially once Studio Park opens? Those four way stops are already becoming problematic,  including for pedestrians.

I'm thinking:

  • Grandville/Oakes
  • Grandville/Cherry
  • Commerce/Oakes
  • Commerce/Cherry
  • Ionia/Oakes
  • Ottawa/Oakes (once Ottawa becomes a through street)

North of Fulton in the downtown area, we have traffic lights at basically every intersection. Heartside is now vibrant enough (more vibrant than "Center City" in some places) that it needs the same treatment. 

 

Grandville and Cherry is finally getting a traffic light this fall. Cherry and Ottawa will also be signalized once it is extended south.

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Grandville/Cherry is probably the worse, especially since buses always think they have the right of way....

Four way stops are really only as good as the drivers using them.  Before I make a complete stop I make a note of who has stopped before me and wait until they have all gone.  Of course you always tend to get the "Midwest nice in-decisive one waves to the other to go and the other waves back at them to go" that's when I say screw it go through.

The pedestrians who just stand on the corner at an intersection don't help either.

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Grandville/Cherry is probably the worse, especially since buses always think they have the right of way....
Four way stops are really only as good as the drivers using them.  Before I make a complete stop I make a note of who has stopped before me and wait until they have all gone.  Of course you always tend to get the "Midwest nice in-decisive one waves to the other to go and the other waves back at them to go" that's when I say screw it go through.
The pedestrians who just stand on the corner at an intersection don't help either.
I do what you do, but if a bus wants to be aggressive about it I'm all for waiting for them to clear the intersection. As a pedestrian, though, I treat cars in totally the opposite way. Just walk through the damn crosswalk!

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The problem with most of the traffic lights DT is that they arent there to actually effectively move traffic, but to just give each direction a "turn" to see a green light every X seconds. No thought is put into how everything is so gridlocked after 5pm, that the lights are basically useless just running through a pre-programmed timer.

 

Major cities have actual traffic control rooms that have CCD cams on the major intersections, and a person at a terminal to manually control the lights to prevent unnecessary backups.

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58 minutes ago, GR_Urbanist said:

The problem with most of the traffic lights DT is that they arent there to actually effectively move traffic, but to just give each direction a "turn" to see a green light every X seconds. No thought is put into how everything is so gridlocked after 5pm, that the lights are basically useless just running through a pre-programmed timer.

 

Major cities have actual traffic control rooms that have CCD cams on the major intersections, and a person at a terminal to manually control the lights to prevent unnecessary backups.

It does seem as if the traffic lights downtown, especially  away from the hill don't really fit the traffic flow patterns in general.   As if the city hasn't revisited the timing since the core revitalized. 

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3 hours ago, MJLO said:

It does seem as if the traffic lights downtown, especially  away from the hill don't really fit the traffic flow patterns in general.   As if the city hasn't revisited the timing since the core revitalized. 

I haven't noticed this or have any evidence of it, but is it possible the lights are still timed to speed traffic up and down the Ottawa/Ionia one-ways, as designed in the 60s? That would explain why Pearl is always a mess. 

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17 hours ago, 54equalsunity said:

. As a pedestrian, though, I treat cars in totally the opposite way. Just walk through the damn crosswalk! 
 

Exactly.  Same here.  Pedestrians have the right of way and should cross right away.

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On 6/12/2019 at 7:49 AM, GR_Urbanist said:

Major cities have actual traffic control rooms that have CCD cams on the major intersections, and a person at a terminal to manually control the lights to prevent unnecessary backups.

Grand Rapids has had such as system since the 80's.  I remember going to  Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) meetings at the then new facility conference room back then. (The one they are renovating).  Ed Swanson was the signal guru back then. Hired from the City of Des Moines IIRC for his signal system skills.

I don't think they manually override any signals. The pucks (The little orange hockey pucks in the center of the lanes at the intersections - they replace in pavement wired loops), and cameras monitor the traffic and "the computer" adjusts the timing. But there just so much adjustment. When the traffic reaches gridlock, signal timing can't fix it. And the system doesn't include all the area signals. Some corridors still get adjusted the old fashioned way, adjust the "clock" in the on site controller (based a computer analysis of traffic counts at peak hours). The "clock" used to be a mechanical 24 hour.  All digital today:) Change with a smart phone. 

https://www.hrcengr.com/traffic-management-center/

 

Edited by Raildude's dad
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Update on the "flip at I-196/E Beltline." They've switched Westbound traffic now over to share the road with Eastbound traffic with a concrete barrier in between. They've already started going to town tearing down the Westbound I-196 bridge that goes over Eastbound 96, and ripping up Westbound I-196 to expand to 3 lanes going West. Does Maryland get torn down and rebuilt in all of this? I can't recall. 

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40 minutes ago, GRDadof3 said:

Update on the "flip at I-196/E Beltline." They've switched Westbound traffic now over to share the road with Eastbound traffic with a concrete barrier in between. They've already started going to town tearing down the Westbound I-196 bridge that goes over Eastbound 96, and ripping up Westbound I-196 to expand to 3 lanes going West. Does Maryland get torn down and rebuilt in all of this? I can't recall. 

Unless they've changed plans, the Maryland bridge is going untouched as there is enough ROW for 3 lanes under the existing bridge. You're probably thinking of the I-196 bridges over Plymouth, which will be rebuilt to accommodate the third lane.

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16 hours ago, VectorPrime said:

Unless they've changed plans, the Maryland bridge is going untouched as there is enough ROW for 3 lanes under the existing bridge. You're probably thinking of the I-196 bridges over Plymouth, which will be rebuilt to accommodate the third lane.

You're right that's what I was thinking of. 

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Speaking of backed up traffic and traffic lights.  In the last 2 moths or so, I've noticed that Knapp street get backed up 1 to 2 miles most evenings now (10-15 minutes to go 1-2 miles).  This is Eastbound traffic backing up from the Grand River Drive intersection.  From a glance, while driving through the intersection, Northbound Grand River drive is backed up a small bit but nothing like the Knapp traffic.  Once you get through the traffic light, it is smooth sailing.  

I don't know if this is an issue with the increased traffic on Knapp or if some sort of traffic light timing has changed.  I do know that it has almost come out of nowhere.  It would be frustrating that after all the construction last year, we find out that they should have done 4 or 5 lanes instead of 3.

Edited by Sparty97

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2 hours ago, Sparty97 said:

Speaking of backed up traffic and traffic lights.  In the last 2 moths or so, I've noticed that Knapp street get backed up 1 to 2 miles most evenings now (10-15 minutes to go 1-2 miles).  This is Eastbound traffic backing up from the Grand River Drive intersection.  From a glance, while driving through the intersection, Northbound Grand River drive is backed up a small bit but nothing like the Knapp traffic.  Once you get through the traffic light, it is smooth sailing.  

I don't know if this is an issue with the increased traffic on Knapp or if some sort of traffic light timing has changed.  I do know that it has almost come out of nowhere.  It would be frustrating that after all the construction last year, we find out that they should have done 4 or 5 lanes instead of 3.

I believe they (finally) added left turn lights for Grand River traffic, who would sit at the intersection through 2 or 3 cycles some times and only one single car could go left. It's especially bad when school lets out around 3:00 and Amway I believe has a shift that ends around 3 or 3:30. But now that has added longer cycles for the other traffic. It might also be people who would normally take I-96 Eastbound and get off at Fulton to go to Ada and Lowell area can no longer do that because I-96 is closed at Leonard.  They may be taking Knapp to Pettis to Lowell?  Everything is pretty f-ed up as far as traffic goes around here.

The other thing I noticed is that they now have I-196 Westbound squeezed to one lane at the big "switch" project, yet if you take the detour up to 131 and then back down to avoid that and have to go cross-town, the 131 to Westbound I-196 ramp is closed now!! WTF.  So they just removed the only viable detour for cross-town drivers, unless you go all the way down to M-6. 

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I checked with our friends at the Road Commission. They are aware of the issue and have been adjusting the cycles to get the most improvement they can.   Closing I96 at Leonard has really impacted traffic out that way.

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15 hours ago, GRDadof3 said:

The other thing I noticed is that they now have I-196 Westbound squeezed to one lane at the big "switch" project, yet if you take the detour up to 131 and then back down to avoid that and have to go cross-town, the 131 to Westbound I-196 ramp is closed now!! WTF.  So they just removed the only viable detour for cross-town drivers, unless you go all the way down to M-6. 

Sounds about right.  Lol.

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On 6/20/2019 at 8:25 AM, Raildude's dad said:

I checked with our friends at the Road Commission. They are aware of the issue and have been adjusting the cycles to get the most improvement they can.   Closing I96 at Leonard has really impacted traffic out that way.

And now Leonard and Crahen is now closed too. That probably doesn't help. Any idea how long that project will take? 

On 6/19/2019 at 5:32 PM, GRDadof3 said:

I believe they (finally) added left turn lights for Grand River traffic, who would sit at the intersection through 2 or 3 cycles some times and only one single car could go left. It's especially bad when school lets out around 3:00 and Amway I believe has a shift that ends around 3 or 3:30. But now that has added longer cycles for the other traffic. It might also be people who would normally take I-96 Eastbound and get off at Fulton to go to Ada and Lowell area can no longer do that because I-96 is closed at Leonard.  They may be taking Knapp to Pettis to Lowell?  Everything is pretty f-ed up as far as traffic goes around here.

The other thing I noticed is that they now have I-196 Westbound squeezed to one lane at the big "switch" project, yet if you take the detour up to 131 and then back down to avoid that and have to go cross-town, the 131 to Westbound I-196 ramp is closed now!! WTF.  So they just removed the only viable detour for cross-town drivers, unless you go all the way down to M-6. 

An update on this PITA project:

Eastbound I-196 is now down to one lane. And, I-96 Eastbound is closed completely at Leonard. That means that all of the traffic for both highways going Eastbound is routed to a one lane section of I-196 near the Beltline.  I think that explains all the traffic on Knapp. Then the East Beltline to Eastbound I-196 gets dumped into that and has to get over right away. So if you happen to be headed Eastbound on I-196 out of downtown, even on a Sunday morning, be prepared to come to a screeching halt. And I mean screeching (like you can smell everyone's rubber burning screeching halt). And that's from only going 50 or 60mph, which is the posted speed limit. 

I know people who work downtown who have adjusted their schedules this summer to go in way earlier and then leave at 3:30/4:00, to avoid the gridlock downtown that apparently happens after 3:30. All of this roadwork is inevitable but crikey (!) this is a bad summer for it. At least the 131 North up near Cedar Springs work has been mostly completed so you can get the F out of dodge on the weekends. :) 

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Getting out of DT has really sucked lately.  I park at Ottawa/Fulton ramp.  With Ionia closed everyone is dumped onto Fulton WB.  The ramp usually backs up 3 or 4 levels. With Division and Ionia closed getting out of DT heading north, the only through road is Monroe, which is now closed to fix the hydrant system that was damaged at Embassy Suites.... good times!

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3 hours ago, Floyd_Z said:

Getting out of DT has really sucked lately.  I park at Ottawa/Fulton ramp.  With Ionia closed everyone is dumped onto Fulton WB.  The ramp usually backs up 3 or 4 levels. With Division and Ionia closed getting out of DT heading north, the only through road is Monroe, which is now closed to fix the hydrant system that was damaged at Embassy Suites.... good times!

I park in that ramp, too. The Ionia closure forces everyone into the already-borked Fulton-Ottawa intersection.  Not fun.

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2 hours ago, wingbert said:

Honestly, I don’t know if it is absolute contempt for fellow humanity or just utter ineptitude, but the combination of road closures this summer seems designed to maximize traffic congestion and driver frustration.  In addition to making a mess of downtown, it’s fugly on the east side too.  Construction on 196, so let’s close 96.  Route people onto Leonard but close Leonard at Crahan so everyone is forced onto an already overloaded Beltline. And if they want to get east but can’t do it from Leonard to Crahan they’ll probably try to use Fulton or Cascade Road so tear up both of those roads at the same time too.  It is such a ham handed approach to planning it doesn’t seem possible it was accidental.

We've had this discussion at my house multiple times over the last few years.  Seems like sheer ineptitude to us.  It's like the city, county road commission and MDOT can't figure out how to map out the closures collaboratively to minimize overlap and disruption to core commuting routes.  Then again, maybe it's part of the ongoing effort to get people to consider transit as an alternative to single-user cars...

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4 hours ago, cstonesparty said:

We've had this discussion at my house multiple times over the last few years.  Seems like sheer ineptitude to us.  It's like the city, county road commission and MDOT can't figure out how to map out the closures collaboratively to minimize overlap and disruption to core commuting routes.  Then again, maybe it's part of the ongoing effort to get people to consider transit as an alternative to single-user cars...

It could be ineptitude but I suspect what it is happening is trade offs in project scheduling involving when funds are released and when contractors and crews are available to do the work along with material availability, and in the case of construction the season.  All these things probably outrank convenience in project planning.  I've never worked on setting up timelines on construction projects but I've worked on some pretty big IT projects and while user convenience is considered, it's the other factors that usually have to take priority.    

Edited by walker
for clarity
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21 hours ago, cstonesparty said:

We've had this discussion at my house multiple times over the last few years.  Seems like sheer ineptitude to us.  It's like the city, county road commission and MDOT can't figure out how to map out the closures collaboratively to minimize overlap and disruption to core commuting routes.  Then again, maybe it's part of the ongoing effort to get people to consider transit as an alternative to single-user cars...

Here's a prime example: Bridge Street is the main detour route for I-196 traffic through downtown. That new "North" project on Bridge has the street pinched down to one lane in each direction with no left turn lane or area to go around a left-turner. Why oh why is the city allowing left turns onto Winter Avenue? Those left turners can just go up a street and turn left at Seward where there's a light and circle back around. The way it's set up now, a left-turner can back up traffic way back past Mt Vernon and Scribner, so that no one going straight can make it through the light at Mt Vernon. You can feel the road rage building in that area every time I drive through there, with good reason. 

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