The New Plan For 2-Way Traffic In Downtown Kalamazoo Is Going To Be A Train Wreck
When I first moved to Kalamazoo, I'll admit, I was not a fan of all the one-way streets in downtown. It was kind of difficult to figure out how to get to SOME places without risking a head-on collision. But over time, I figured it out - didn't take me long - and now, I kind of like it. Traffic flows well around downtown, I never have to worry about getting backed up (unless there's a train), and all is well... or so I thought.
Just MONTHS after moving here, the city announced its plans to turn downtown streets into a two-way mess, and the more we learn about the plans, the more I'm starting to wonder... WHY?
It's very clear that Kalamazoo wants to make the city (downtown especially) a walkable, easy to navigate area. There are some flaws at the moment, that I think could be fixed with some simple parking options, and even a trolly or shuttle service.
But that's not enough. City officials have to think BIGGER than that, and now, we have the potential for a mess on our hands.
MLive recently wrote an article on their plans, which you can flip through here...
I didn't even have to look past the image of what their plan is to know... THIS is going to be a nightmare.
So let's talk about three things that are a problem here:
1. Uneven Traffic Flow: This seems to be designed in a way, that even the person who thought this up knows that traffic flowing in the "WRONG" direction through downtown is a smaller issue than we're making it out to be.
SO small, that they only get ONE LANE! The need for "WRONG" direction-flowing traffic is so small, they can't even get a fair share of the road.
2. The Turn Lane: Well, if you put a "WRONG" direction lane on the "inside" of traffic flow around downtown, you're gonna have to find a way for them to turn out of it. Not to mention, the two "RIGHT" direction lanes have to have a way to safely traverse the unnecessary "inside" lane... so... we get one of these center turn lanes.
Problem is, city blocks are so small in downtown, GUARANTEE these will be backed up immediately. Cars headlight to headlight, trying to turn across oncoming traffic - which is going to be a nightmare during high traffic times - backing up cars for blocks, getting stuck in the middle of intersections, and blocking crossing traffic.
I see what happens on W. Kalamazoo Ave. when just ONE lane is closed for construction work. This will be worse.
3. Parking Gone: If you notice, to get in that extra turn lane, they had to eliminate the "outside" parking lane, which MEANS.... less parking in downtown, which is already hurting for spaces.
If you try to find a place to park during a concert at State Theatre, an event at Bell's, when a big function is happening at the Radisson, or just a busy Friday and Saturday night at the bars, breweries and restaurants, it's HARD to find a good spot to park. This would make it worse.
Two-way traffic in downtown Kalamazoo solves NOTHING, and if THIS plan is implemented, it's going to make traffic issues FAR worse. We, instead, should probably be focusing on how we can get the college kids from Western and KCollege down the hill and into downtown, so they can REALLY see what Kalamazoo has to offer, besides a few hilltop bars and restaurants.
So yeah, this plan sucks, and I think it will only make things worse... but I guess, I don't know what else I would have expected from the same people who gave us the most confusing (and useless) bike lanes on Westnedge and Park Avenues.