Five months after two University students were killed at a busy
intersection on Plymouth Road, the city is taking action to
increase safety measures in that area.

Officials from the city Engineering Department have outlined a
proposal to the Ann Arbor City Council that would install traffic
precautions on Plymouth Road.

The plan suggests installing grass medians running down the
middle of Plymouth from Murfin Avenue to Nixon Road, a span of
about seven and a half miles, as well as the possibility of a
traffic light at the intersection of Plymouth and Traverwood Drive,
pending a survey. The council has not yet voted on the plan, and it
is unknown when they plan to do so.

The section of the road discussed in this plan prompted intense
scrutiny in November after engineering students Teh Nannie Roshem
Roslan and Norhananim Zainol were killed by a vehicle while
crossing Plymouth on their way home from attending an evening
prayer at the Islamic Center of Ann Arbor.

City Councilmember Jean Carlberg said she likes the idea of the
traffic medians because they allow pedestrians to wait in the
median to check for traffic before crossing the next two lanes
safely to the other side.

“The traffic medians provide refuge for pedestrians
crossing the street and are also aesthetically pleasing,”
Carlberg said.

The department’s immediate plans call for constructing
12-foot-wide traffic medians in the center lane of the five-lane
Plymouth Road. Chief Engineer Homayoon Pirooz said the medians
would cost a total of $120,000 to $130,000.

Pirooz said the department proposed the plan to the City Council
as “a traffic-calming method.”

“There are also medians now within the limit that are not
used. We thought it would not only be safer if the asphalt medians
were converted to grass, but it would look better too,” he
said.

Lighted pedestrian crosswalks and a reduction of speed limit
from 40 to 35 miles per hour would also take immediate effect if
the Council approves the plan.

City Administrator Roger Fraser said the city could not vote on
the project until it seeks approval from other parties invested in
the area.

“Right now, this plan is just a recommendation that the
Engineering Department gave to the council to give it direction.
Now, we have to visit the folks who are affected by these possible
changes and ask them what they think,” Fraser said.

In response to Muslim community leaders and citizens’
calls for a traffic light after the November tragedy, the city
hired Lansing-based consulting firm CH2M HILL. It reported in late
January that according to state law, the levels of pedestrian and
vehicle traffic did not require a traffic signal.

Carlberg said a light at the Plymouth and Traverwood
intersection was recommended before the two students were killed,
and then was upgraded as a higher priority within the new plan.

Under the new plan, no traffic light would be installed at the
entrance to the Islamic Center, but Pirooz said a signal could be
added at the crossing with Plymouth and Traverwood Drive. To decide
whether a light is needed, the city would conduct a new traffic
study either this year or next. A traffic light would cost the city
$100,000.

The proposal would extend Traverwood Drive to MacIntyre Street,
which is south of Plymouth. MacIntyre would then become a four-way
intersection. Beal Avenue would be closed, making Traverwood the
only road to North Campus from Plymouth.

Fraser said because the University has a vested interest in Beal
Avenue, which runs through North Campus, negotiations will be
conducted between city and University officials.

Carlberg (D- 3rd Ward) said it is possible that a traffic light
at Traverwood could change the configuration of Beal, which faces
the Islamic Center across Plymouth Road. But she said she does not
think a traffic light is necessary.

Councilmember Bob Johnson (D- Ward) disagreed with her. He said
he believes that other councilmembers are not committed enough to
increasing safety measures in the area near the Islamic Center and
Plymouth Road, and added that he supports the addition of a traffic
light.

“I personally don’t think the plan goes far enough
by just adding traffic medians. … I don’t see any
reason to wait for a traffic light,” Johnson said.

He said he will propose more changes to the initiative in the
hope that the council will approve even more safety measures than
are now contained in the plan.

Muslim Community Association Vice President Kudama Kawan said
leaders from the Islamic Center will meet with city officials to
discuss the issue today and Monday. Leaders from the Muslim
Community Association declined further comment.

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