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Tri-County study aims for unified vision for a more attractive Michigan Avenue

Michigan Avenue, Lansing
WKAR File Photo
The Tri-County Regional Planning Commission is developing a study that seeks to create a unified vision for Michigan Avenue in an effort to make the corridor more accessible and attractive.

The Tri-County Regional Planning Commission is working on a study as part of an ongoing effort to develop Michigan Avenue.

The goal is to create a more unified vision of the corridor as it runs between downtown Lansing and downtown East Lansing.

The commission is using previous completed studies to inform its new Vision for Michigan’s Avenue study. Commission members are interested in improving walkability, ease of driving, bicycling safety, transit access, placemaking and business development.

When we think of some of our favorite places to go in and town, Michigan Avenue may not reach that high bar, but we’re definitely pushing the needle in that direction.
Chris Zull, Progressive AE

Chris Zull is with Progressive AE, an architectural design and engineering firm involved in the study. He says the idea is to make the area more attractive, safe and accessible.

“When we think of some of our favorite places to go in and town, Michigan Avenue may not reach that high bar, but we’re definitely pushing the needle in that direction,” he said.

Nicole Baumer, the deputy director of the commission, says by using previous studies on the corridor, the commission won’t have to re-ask the community about needs. But the commission is still open to new feedback.

“We know people are frustrated. We know people have shared their input over the years. We don’t want to ignore that input, but really this is the time where we’re looking to confirm that input or find out about changes in priorities,” she said.

Baumer says one of the challenges of developing the study is balancing community needs with technical feasibility.

“There are so many users of the roadway and of the walkways from building to building, and we want to accommodate as many of those needs and desires as possible,” she said.

We know people have shared their input over the years. We don’t want to ignore that input, but really this is the time where we’re looking to confirm that input or find out about changes in priorities.
Nicole Baumer, Deputy Director of the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission

The final concept developed from the study is meant to become a plan that stakeholders, including the cities of Lansing and East Lansing, the Capital Area Transportation Authority, the Michigan Department of Transportation as well as community members can all agree on.

Baumer said as far as implementing recommendations from the plan, compromise will be key.

“The only way we’re really going to be able to position ourselves to be ready to not only receive funding but to pursue funding as a community, both private and publicly, and from non-profits, is to have a single direction that we are all working toward,” she said. “The reality is not everyone is going to agree with it.”

One of the aims is to attract more visitors to the area, not just locals, Baumer says, and that means the commission is also interested in hearing from people from out of town.

“We want this to be a destination. There’s no reason Michigan Avenue shouldn’t be a part of your plans outside of just a scenic visit to the Capitol,” Baumer said.

A survey is available on the commission website and a community input session will be held on Sept. 22 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 2222 E. Michigan Avenue.

In the shorter term, results will be used as soon as next year and in 2024 to inform design recommendations for planned road construction along the corridor.

The public will be able to see the final results of the study in the spring of 2023.

Melorie Begay is WKAR-FM's weekend host and a general assignment reporter.
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