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'Road diet' approved for Hagadorn Road

A road intersection, featuring stop lights and cars and trucks waiting at a traffic light.
Michelle Jokisch Polo
The Hagadorn road diet will stretch north from Grand River Avenue (pictured above) to Burcham Drive.

East Lansing is moving forward with a "road diet" redesign of Hagadorn Road that will reduce space for cars and add bike lanes.

Officials plan to repave more than half a mile of Hagadorn between Grand River Avenue and Burcham Drive, which currently has two car traveling lanes in each direction.

The proposal that the City Council adopted unanimously Tuesday will remove one lane for cars in each direction. The additional space would be used for a center turning lane as well as painted bike lanes and two sets of crosswalks and pedestrian islands.

The turning lane allows left-turning motorists to get into a separate lane. City staff say the design will make turns easier and help prevent rear-end crashes.

During the meeting, City Councilmember Kerry Ebersole Singh said the new design will improve safety along the corridor and make it easier for pedestrians to cross the street.

“It’s like playing Frogger sometimes getting across to head downtown and as we want to continue to make our community more walkable, I appreciate the safety measures here,” she said.

Some residents have previously expressed concerns that eliminating space for cars will worsen traffic congestion and increase traffic on nearby streets.

Councilmember Mark Meadows said traffic did not worsen when East Lansing previously implemented other road diets on parts of Grand River, Burcham and Abbott Road.

“The people along [Burcham] appreciated what we did," Meadows said. "It slowed down traffic. It made it safer. It just works that way.”

Mayor George Brookover said he would "reluctantly" support the new design after raising concerns about a lack of stoplights that would force cars to stop at Hagadorn's pedestrian crosswalks.

City staff said the configuration will include flashing light beacons that people can activate to make motorists aware that they're crossing, while the pedestrian islands would allow people and traffic to flow more easily.

Brookover said he'd like to see more resources for those crossing the street and additional traffic enforcement from the police department, stating "the speeds in downtown East Lansing are horrible."

"I'm really going to be interested in making sure that with this volume of traffic on Hagadorn Road, people have a way of crossing that street safely," Brookover said.

Hagadorn’s repaving is being funded with a grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Arjun Thakkar is WKAR's politics and civics reporter.
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