A new school year means more traffic and more headaches for
students, faculty and community members. But Ann Arbor city leaders
are considering making substantial changes to streets on and around
campus to improve conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Tonight, students and community members will have their final
chance to voice their concerns about the city’s traffic
problems. The forum will be at 7 p.m. at Community High School,
located on North Division and Catherine. At the meeting, a
consultant group will recommend changes to improve campus and
surrounding streets.

University Planner Sue Gott said the University has been
involved in these meetings in an effort to encourage more students
and community members to use nonmotorized transportation,
specifically walking and riding bikes.

“The hope is that there will be a reduction in dependence
on private vehicle use, which will reduce congestion in our roads
and reduce pressure to build more parking structures,” Gott
said.

The city has large-scale plans for the prospective road
improvements.

City Planner Jeff Kahan said the city is looking at projects
such as making some four-lane streets into three-lane streets, as
well as adding islands in the middle of roads so pedestrians and
cyclists can cross half way and wait until traffic clears. Kahan
said both changes would make pedestrian and bicycle travel
safer.

“This is a very important effort due to the number of
people who depend on nonmotorized transportation,” Kahan
said.

One of the areas that the city is concerned with is the corner
of State and Liberty streets.

The University is already attempting to control and improve
traffic flow. For example, it has built a pedestrian bridge over
Washtenaw Avenue and added more sidewalks to North Campus.

More bus services are also being offered as an alternative to
student driving, Facilities and Operations spokeswoman Diane Brown
said.

Nevertheless, many students voiced concern in response to the
traffic flow around campus.

“I’ve seen a lot of near-accidents between
pedestrians, cyclists and cars before, and something should
probably be done about it,” LSA junior Kristina Nyland
said.

Some students said the city should make more improvements to the
safety of travel for pedestrians and cyclists. “I think any
measure that supports ‘walkability’ will be positive
for the community. … Right now the cars and students are in
a constant struggle,” LSA junior Audrey Vesota said.

Other students do not see traffic improvements as a necessity
for the University community. LSA junior Trisha Boyd said,
“Changing the roads will cause more of a problem because it
will take so long for the city to redo the roads.”

The University will base its plans on what is revealed tonight
at the meeting by the consultant group, which will make suggestions
regarding the most effective way to improve traffic around
campus.

“We would really appreciate student input at the meeting
because it will be valuable in determining what improvements are
made,” Gott said.

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