By SUE SUCHYTA
DEARBORN – A partial closure of Elm Street at Oakwood Boulevard and a redesign of the Beech Street and Oakwood Boulevard intersection were approved at the Nov. 16 City Council meeting.
Chief of Staff Mark Guido said at the Nov. 8 mayoral briefing that the intersection isn’t dangerous, but awkward.
He said Ford Motor Co. is re-doing a number of its intersections in conjunction with its Research and Engineering Center campus redevelopment, and Beech-Oakwood intersection is on the northern border of it.
“They are really trying to create more of a green space and a buffer between their campus and the neighborhood that is right there adjoining,” Guido said. “This is a better long-term design for traffic safety.”
During the Nov. 8 mayoral briefing, Kaileigh Bianchini, Dearborn senior planner, said the work will be funded through a Transportation Economic Development Fund grant awarded by the Michigan Department of Transportation to Wayne County, in partnership with the Ford Motor Co.
The TEDF grant program provides financial support to public road agencies for transportation improvements designed to encourage private investment, as well as to create and retain jobs.
“In this particular case, this grant was awarded to improve vehicular and pedestrian safety in the campus,” she said.
Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. said things like this have been done before with Ford Motor Co. in other places within the city.
“This isn’t the first time,” he said. “Some things like this have already been in play.”
Bianchini said when Ford changes how it uses its land, there are times when the city has to change how it utilizes its roads.
With Ford’s redesign of its Research and Engineering Center, and the anticipated traffic volume increase and traffic pattern changes in the immediate area, the grant will improve safety for drivers and pedestrians.
The closure of Elm Street at Oakwood Boulevard to vehicle traffic, with pedestrian walkways and bike path installation, and the addition of an emergency vehicle turn-around lane, would address current traffic safety concerns. Part of the existing concrete would be replaced with landscaping and trees.
Ford Land has agreed to pay for the initial reconstruction costs for the Elm Street improvements, and will maintain the infrastructure, including the bicycle and walking paths, in the future.
Ford’s proposed Gateway Park would serve as a buffer to nearby residential and commercial properties, and will act as a transitional area from the campus.
At the Oakwood Boulevard and Beech Road intersection, Dearborn Federal Credit Union will provide a 300-square-foot dedicated right-of-way next to the Beech Street right-of-way.
The addition of a pedestrian island will improve pedestrian traffic, since it reduces the distance walkers must cover to cross the street.
Guido said that originally, Ford wanted to make Beech one way, going out to Oakwood, which would eliminate the left turn from northbound Oakwood to westbound Beech, but city officials maintained that residents need to have that access to the neighborhood.