Thursday, September 14, 2023

Greenway consultants present city connectivity study

Representatives from the Greenway Collaborative believe they have found ways to improve connectivity between Northville parks, neighborhoods and local destinations.

The draft report of the consultants was presented to members of the Northville City Council Aug. 24 and included an update of the non-motorized plan developed in 2013. The report included plans for a proposed traffic roundabout, a riverwalk pathway, seasonally closed downtown streets and new developments at the Downs and Foundry Flask.

The report demonstrated ways paths, trails and sidewalks in the city can be better connected within the city and also link to regional pathways to improve conditions in the near term, with a focus on safety, access, and creating an environment that inspires people to walk and bicycle more, a spokesman noted.

City council members said they were impressed with the content and noted it is an important and much needed document that will also help support future grant applications. 

Ideas presented in the report include narrowing some four-lane streets to three lanes, using the inside lane for turns and adding bike paths to both sides of the street. Green-painted boxes for bike paths at busy intersections would alert drivers of bicyclists. The consultants propose closing the gaps in existing sidewalks by adding new sidewalks and building walkways on street shoulders where feasible. Examples include Baseline Road near Parmenter's Cider Mill, and Seven Mile between River and S. Center. 

To improve safe school routes, the consultants propose making a sidewalk connection to Amerman Elementary, installing a shared-use path along Doheny Drive to Silver Spring Elementary School, completing the sidewalk along Eight Mile between Randolph and Hillside School, and replacing the existing pedestrian bridge at Moraine Elementary School with a pedestrian hybrid beacon and a crossing island.

In one section of the report, the consultants focused on key corridors in the city and those leading to regional connections, noting what hasn't been completed from the 2013 plan, and presented crash data, on usage of pathways provided by app users, as well as the consultants' observations and recommendations. 

The consultants indicated many of the changes can be done near-term since they involve city-owned right of ways and would not alter the curbs. One simple improvement is to plant more trees in right of ways to provide a buffer for pedestrians and make the street appear narrower to motorists, which helps reduce speed. The consultants recommended removing some street parking and creating a bike path for greater safety and visibility in certain areas, including Randolph near High, and Wing between Main and Cady.

The report was produced by Norm Cox and Carolyn Prudhomme, of The Greenway Collaborative. A SEMCOG planning grant for FY 2023 will reimburse approximately 90 percent of the $40,000 contract cost.