By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — Over 50 Dearborn residents and business owners packed the John D. Dingell Transit Center, 21201 Michigan Ave., Oct. 17 to give their input on the city’s Multimodal Transportation Plan.
Greenway Collaborative President Norman Cox presented the plan, “which is a tool that will be used to analyze transportation priorities to best meet overall community goals,” according to the city.
During the meeting, Cox said there are both short-term and long-term enchantments involved in the plan and that the focus is on moving people, not objects.
The beginning stages of the plan would begin with “paint and sign” projects such as differed bike lanes before transitioning to fully separated projects, including road resurfacing.
Under the short-term section, plans call for better transit, pedestrian bicycle access at Fairlane Town Center, and four east-to-west pedestrian and bicycle connections on Ford Road, the Rouge Trail, Michigan Avenue and Rotunda Drive.
Cox listed Warren Avenue, Michigan Avenue between Schlaff and Oakman Boulevard, and Oakwood Boulevard as the three challenging areas in the short-term during the presentation.
For the long-term vision, Cox identified seven general corridor types which were, high speed rail, multimodal boulevards, local transit routes, crosstown corridors, neighborhood connectors, green express routes and greenways.
For the Rouge Gateway Trail, there would be a completion of the trail south to Dix, greenway along the middle Rouge River and additional trail amenities for experience and safety. Some of the elements are improved sight lines, lighted pathway, security cameras, emergency call boxes, restrooms, way finding signage and historical and natural interpretative signs.
The greenway express route has two proposed routes: one to connect the two downtowns and a second to link Ford Motor Co. and Fairlane Town Center.
As for the passenger and commuter rail, the goal is to advocate for a regional transportation system to include a commuter rail between Ann Arbor and Detroit, high speed rail between Detroit and Chicago and a joint operating agreement to establish a commuter rail demonstration project.
Included in the proposed rail elements are new roll-on bicycle services, tourism encouragement and adding a car share center, according to the presentation.
In the neighborhood connectors portion of the plan, there would be a low street system using local roads and trails to link parks, schools and neighborhoods, creating safe crossings at busy roads, coordination with major bus stops along the multimodal boulevards and serve as a complement to the greenway and green express routes.
Cox went on to explain the crosstown connectors, which he said “will make the city more attractive for everyone living in Dearborn or visiting from outside of Dearborn.”
The objective of the crosstown connectors is to expand the mobility options on the routes and provide access across the city on corridors with generally very little commercial activity.
Some of the elements of the crosstown are continuous sidewalks or pathways, street trees, designated bicycle facilities and safe pedestrian crossings.
The local transit routes aim “to establish corridors that promote commercial activity by improving the appearance and access by transit, bike or foot,” according to the presentation.
For the multimodal boulevard, there would be designated lanes for transit and connected vehicles, designated transit bays with the ability pre-empt flow to re-entering traffic, designated ride-share dropoff points with electronic tolling system and time restrictions and build-in traffic counts for personal mobility vehicles and sidewalk.
The multimodal boulevard aspect of the overall plan will “work toward creating traditional leafy grand boulevards that can accommodate a great deal of through traffic at moderate speeds,” according to the presentation.
During each slide of the presentation, Cox asked those in attendance to hold up a red, yellow or green notecard to represent how they felt about each proposed idea or element.
The red was for “very concerned,” yellow for “cautious” or “not sure yet” and green for a “looks good” feeling. Most of the residents and business owners expressed concern over construction or road closures, neighborhood traffic during construction, potholes and what the expected timeline would be.
Attendees liked the idea of more bike lanes, asked for a consideration of the buses and the schedules they run on and suggested adding delineators on the roads as guides.
The project officially began in January with a goal end date of early 2019. Inventory and data collection followed, then in March, April and May the first round of public engagement saw 700 people participate.
“When complete, the plan will accomplish three goals: communicating the city’s transportation strategy for the future, developing proposed improvements that address all modes, and providing a method of prioritizing and implementing projects,” a city press release said.
Dearborn Senior Planner Mohamed Ayoub said the city already was considering the multimodal transportation improvements when it received a push from Healthy Dearborn so Cox and his team were hired to create the partnership.
Next, the preliminary system plans were developed and another pair of public engagement sessions were held in October. From there, the plan will be refined with the public feedback before a final plan is determined and presented to the city departments and council next year.
The Multimodal Transportation Plan is led by a 40-person advisory committee with representatives from SMART; DDOT; MDOT; Wayne County Parks; Beaumont Health; Ford Land; The Henry Ford; University of Michigan-Dearborn; Henry Ford College; police; planning, walking and bicycling advocates; and downtown development authorities.
For more information on the proposed plan or to provide feedback to the city go to www.walkbike.info/dearborn.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected].)