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East Lansing considers "road diet" on Hagadorn Road

A photo of Downtown East Lansing south of Grand River Avenue.
Arjun Thakkar
East Lansing plans to repave Hagadorn Road from Grand River Avenue to Burcham Drive.

Officials in East Lansing are taking public input on the city's non-motorized transportation plan and a proposed redesign of Hagadorn Road that would add bike lanes to the street.

The city is receiving a grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation to repave more than half a mile of the north-south street between Grand River Avenue and Burcham Drive.

As part of the project, the city is planning a new “road diet” design on Hagadorn. It would remove two car travel lanes and use the space for a new center turning lane. Two bike lanes would also be added.

Over 40 residents gathered at a public hearing Monday to voice opposition to the plan.

Mitch Moore is vice-chair of the East Lansing Transportation Commission, which ran the hearing. He said many participants argued the plan would worsen traffic congestion and lead to a backup of vehicles on the corridor.

"They think it would hurt the neighborhoods who use Hagadorn as their main point to get out of their side streets," Moore said. "They just don't see the value of adding it."

Moore said other attendees think the redesign would make the road more comfortable to navigate. He noted the section of Hagadorn set to be repaved lacks dedicated left-turn lanes in some areas, a feature that would be addressed by the road diet.

“Residents who did come to support the plan think it would be safer for pedestrians, safer for residents to move in and around the area.”

The Federal Highway Safety Administration reports that road diet redesigns do not worsen traffic congestion, calling the concern "a myth."

The commission is set to discuss the new design at another meeting the next month. The group can recommend changes to the plan, but the framework will ultimately be evaluated by the East Lansing City Council.

Moore said the proposal lines up with East Lansing's priorities under a draft non-motorized transportation plan being developed in the city. The plan, also discussed on Monday, recommends East Lansing implement bike lanes and additional measures to improve pedestrian safety.

The transportation commission has been engaging with residents to update its plan for people who don’t travel in a motor vehicle.

A document presented to the group Monday includes proposals to expand lanes that separate cyclists from car traffic. The plan also suggests extending sidewalk curbs on several city streets to make it safer for pedestrians to cross intersections.

Moore said officials hope to make East Lansing’s infrastructure more integrated with neighboring destinations, including Michigan State University, Lansing, Meridian Township and Lake Lansing Park.

“We just wanted to make sure that residents and visitors have a wide variety of transportation methods to experience the great amenities our city has to offer,” Moore said.

The transportation commission is expected to discuss the non-motorized plan next month before sending it to the City Council for final approval.

But it will likely take some time for the city to implement the proposals, depending on budget priorities and funding availability.

Arjun Thakkar is WKAR's politics and civics reporter.
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