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Lansing explores redesign of east side of Michigan Avenue

Lansing skyline
WKAR File Photo

The city of Lansing is developing a plan to redesign an eastern section of Michigan Avenue.

The current proposal would reconfigure a mile and a half of the corridor from Pennsylvania Avenue to Clippert Street. The current proposal would modernize traffic signals and install bicycle lanes on each side of the road, making cycling easier.

Lansing Public Service Director Andy Kilpatrick said the project will allow for maintenance upgrades and serve as a long-term update to the corridor's infrastructure.

"This will kind of be a new road," Kilpatrick said. "Once it's done, we anticipate we're not gonna have to get back in here for probably a good 15 or 20 years."

To make space for the additions without widening the avenue, construction would remove one eastbound car lane while retaining a center turning lane, two westbound lanes and street parking. Kilpatrick said traffic patterns illustrated a need for more capacity for inbound morning commuters.

Officials have been exploring plans for years to revamp Michigan Avenue, a corridor that sees close to 20,000 drivers a day. The Tri-County Regional Planning Commission is working on a study for changes to a broader region of the road. Lansing also offers a façade improvement program for business owners along major roads to receive support for aesthetic renovations.

A proposal from the Capital Area Transportation Authority to transform Route 1 into a Bus Rapid Transit system would have made substantial changes to the corridor. Officials abandoned that plan following an opposition campaign and a loss of federal funding.

Kilpatrick said the BRT plan's demise gave the city the opportunity to craft a new option based on earlier input. The city held a public meeting last week to measure support for the plan, and Kilpatrick said reactions were generally positive to the redesign.

He added that community members had expressed support for introducing cycling infrastructure to construction proposals.

"The fact that that project is not moving forward now, that enabled us to kind of accommodate everyone, both the traffic out there, keep parking, and then add cycling facility," he said.

The project will cost about $11.4 million, with $7.7 million in federal funding to pay for roadwork. The city expects utility maintenance to begin this fall and road construction to begin in 2024.

Arjun Thakkar is WKAR's politics and civics reporter.
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