Achievement unlocked: safe biking over I-94

The overpass where Huron/Hamilton/Whittaker cross I-94 has been at the top of Ypsi’s safe streets needs list for years. With the city’s neighborhoods on the north side of the freeway cut off from the township’s commercial and industrial areas on the south side, and the nearest alternate crossing requiring over a mile detour, you’d regularly see pedestrians or cyclists braving the center median to get to work or the grocery store–often enough to wear a permanent footpath in the grass.

But, no more! After a lot of years of pushing by the city and their state legislators, and support from the Township and County Road Commission, MDOT came up with funding to fix the overpass. Last year’s construction shifted lanes on the bridge to make room for a protected bike/walk path, realigned ramps, and added new signals. (At great expense–maybe we should design bridges to be safe from the get-go rather than requiring pricey retrofits later?)

The township and road commission also added a side path connecting south to the industrial park, shopping centers, and township civic complex. Where this route used to be something I avoided even as a fairly strong cyclist, I can now bike my elementary schoolers down to the games store and big suburban library branch on the weekend.

This year MDOT will be narrowing the one-way pair on the city’s side of the interchange as part of a scheduled resurfacing project–the stroads that a visiting engineer once described as “three lanes of hate hurtling towards downtown.”

It’ll be “better” though still not great, two lanes of simmering resentment rather than three of hate, and the bike lanes buffered by paint and flexi-posts because MDOT won’t pay for full physical buffering. But still better, a long-overdue shedding of unneeded road capacity and a solid step towards making these into true streets, even if we have to wait another rebuild cycle for that to happen.

And, honorable mention for this work goes to YCUA, which had lanes on those roads closed all last year for water/sewer main replacement. Between that and MDOT’s repaving project this year, the roads will have already been limited to 1-2 car lanes (or closed entirely) for two full construction seasons before the bike lanes appear: the bike lanes will be attached to fresh pavement and the end of a long construction project rather than themselves the proximate cause of lane reduction.

About Me

Michigander, parent of twins, urban planner, role-playing game nerd.


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