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Posted on: January 23, 2018

Proposed Ludington Avenue Lane Configuration on a Trial Basis


TO:                  Mayor Holman and the Ludington City Council

FROM:            John Shay, City Manager

DATE:            January 19, 2018

RE:                  Proposed Ludington Avenue Lane Configuration on a Trial Basis

 

As you know, representatives from the City of Ludington (City) met on October 25, 2017 with representatives from the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to further discuss the concept of reconfiguring the number of lanes on Ludington Avenue between Jackson Road and William Street from four and five lanes to three lanes on a trial basis in order to improve vehicular and pedestrian safety.  It would also allow wider travel lanes and parking spaces in the downtown area.

 

MDOT informed the City that based on its analysis of the traffic counts and turning patterns, the proposed lane configuration may work in that it did not appear that it would cause any significant delays in traffic.  It stated that the longest delay was predicted to occur at the Washington Avenue intersection, but all vehicles on Ludington Avenue would still be able to get through the intersection on one cycle of the traffic signal.  MDOT concluded the meeting by stating that it planned to compile additional information and prepare drawings in order to show the public how such a lane reconfiguration would look and the impacts of such a lane reconfiguration.  MDOT would then provide this information to the City, which would release it to the public in advance of a public meeting to be scheduled sometime in January.

 

Later in December, MDOT informed the City that it would take longer than expected to provide this information to the City, as MDOT was experiencing changes to its staff, including hiring a new manager of the Muskegon office.  MDOT subsequently invited Police Chief Mark Barnett, DPW Supt. Joe Stickney, Community Development Director Heather Tykoski and I to a meeting in Muskegon on January 10, 2018 to discuss this issue.

 

At this meeting, the new manager of MDOT’s Muskegon office stated that MDOT had completed additional analysis of the traffic studies and now concluded that reducing Ludington Avenue from four or five lanes down to three lanes on a trial basis was likely to cause “significant” delays on Ludington Avenue.  Furthermore, MDOT stated that while the proposed lane configuration may reduce some types of accidents, it may increase other types of accidents, as vehicles from side streets attempt to enter onto Ludington Avenue.  For these reasons, MDOT stated that it would not allow a three-lane configuration on a trial basis in the downtown area.  It would only allow a three-lane configuration on a trial basis between Jackson Road and Rowe street.  If this trial was determined to be a success, MDOT would consider possibly allowing another trial in the downtown area but would not commit to this.

 

The change in MDOT’s position from October to January has significantly impacted the primary reasons for considering implementing this lane configuration on a trial basis; namely, to improve vehicle and pedestrian safety and to provide wider travel lanes and parking spaces in the downtown area.  Based on this, there does not appear to be sufficient justification to pursue reconfiguring the lanes on Ludington Avenue on a trial basis.  The City can always reconsider this position if subsequent public input requests the City to pursue this issue further.  I welcome further discussion from the City Council during the City Council meeting.

 

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