East Jefferson Ave. being redesigned to improve safety, help better connect residents to riverfront

East Jefferson Ave. being redesigned to improve safety, help better connect residents to riverfront
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The City of Detroit this week will begin the first phase of a project along a 5.4-mile stretch of East Jefferson Ave. that will make the street safer and better connect residents to the riverfront.

The roadway will soon have seven lanes rather than five, more protected bike lanes to help connect residents to Belle Isle and the Riverfront, short pedestrian crossing distances and dedicated parking lanes.

The work began this week and is expected to be completed by July 4, says Department of Public Works Director Ron Brundidge. It will be done in three individual phases to reduce the project’s impact on traffic.

The first section to be redesigned will be on the east end from Lakewood to St. Jean streets. Once that is completed and fully reopened, Phase Two installation will occur from St. Jean to Van Dyke, followed by Phase Three from Van Dyke to Rivard.

Driving on East Jefferson during the construction period should not significantly impact the overall flow of traffic, the City says. However, street parking will be unavailable for a short period in each phase of construction.

Key elements of the redesign include:

  • Converting the road from seven driving lanes to five lanes (two driving lanes in each direction and a dedicated left-turn lane) to create shorter crossing distances for pedestrians and help to calm traffic along East Jefferson
  • Installing clearer crosswalks to further improve pedestrian safety
  • Adding protected bike lanes on both sides of East Jefferson – bike lanes will occupy the curb lane
  • Installing a designated formal parking lane next to the bike lane, away from the curb, and with a buffer zone between it and the bike lane

The redesign is needed.

According to the City, East Jefferson, which carries more than 20,000 vehicles per day, saw 777 traffic crashes from 2012-2016. Six of those crashes were fatal – three were with pedestrians. The Detroit Police Department regularly addresses issues of speeding and other traffic violations along this stretch of East Jefferson, which passes several schools and residential buildings for senior citizens.

The safety improvements and protected bike lanes will by provide safer routes for cyclists while also improving experiences for pedestrians and improving traffic safety, the City says.

The protected bike lanes are being installed this summer ahead of a planned 2020 repaving of East Jefferson when the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department will also replace outdated water and sewer lines. To avoid repetitive and wasteful repaving, the city will restripe East Jefferson this summer, waiting until 2020 to fully resurface the road.

Cyclists can expect safer bike lanes, protected by bollards, painted buffers and on-street parking following construction. During construction, bike lanes will have limited access in construction zones. Upon completion, cyclists will be able to ride protected from vehicular traffic and separated from opening car doors.

When construction is complete, drivers will have designated on-street parking spaces located on the traffic side of the protected bike lanes. Drivers will park in areas marked by paint along bollards protecting the bike lanes.

The new design will bring several new street elements. There will be red painted boxes on the pavement to identify bus stops and green sections where bikes and cars share the road. The City is launching a public education effort to help residents understand the changes. If you live north and south of East Jefferson within the project limits you will receive a printed brochure that explains each aspect of the redesign and provides tips for motorists and bicyclists on how to safely use the newly designed road.

Street signs will be installed temporarily along the length of the project reminding motorist that the parking lane is now set farther out from the curb because of the addition of the bike lanes.

The city also has set up a web page, which includes the same information, along with an email address where residents can submit feedback.  The City will evaluate the project based on safety data, mobility data, and community feedback to determine any design changes that may be necessary.

“The safety of our streets starts by designing them for everyone who uses them,” says Brundidge “Effective public education is another part of that strategy that reinforces safety when we bring new designs to our roads.”

District managers, DPW and Planning Department staff will be available to attend community and block club meetings. To request city staff attend a meeting, contact your district manager or email eastjefferson@detroitmi.gov.

Editor’s note: To learn more about area bike lanes, rides and other activities see our GOguide-related articles, sponsored by the Michigan Fitness Foundation:

26-mile Joe Louis Greenway will connect neighborhoods to riverfront, Dequindre Cut

City to buy railroad property, in effort to connect more neighborhoods

Happy Trails: Michigan families can enter a whole new world without ever leaving their home state

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