Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What Happened to Traffic Lanes on Martin Luther King, Jr. Street?

The last few weeks, I have taken a different route downtown that requires taking Martin Luther King, Jr. Street (which is known as Michigan Road up north and West Street in the downtown area).  I get off the interestate at about 28th Street and then take MLK in.

This is a view of the area, a picture taken during the MLK Street
improvement ceremony.  On normal days the spots where those cars
are parked are almost completely empty.
MLK has been a major thoroughfare into the city.  This time though I notice what I believe is a change, the two outer lanes have been turned into non-metered, parallel parking for about a 1 3/4 mile stretch.  The prior four or five lane road has been reduced to one lane each way with a suicide turn lane in the middle.  As a result, the traffic on MLK is much more congested than what I remember.

There is very little residential in the area.  Most are businesses which have their own parking.  The MLK parallel parking spots during the busiest part of the day are almost completely unused.  Even if the area justifies on-street parking, which is doubtful, why not just put it on one side so you can have four traffic lanes, instead of two?

Found this Star article.  Apparently this is a recent change.  The repaved roads and curbs look nice, but cutting down the traffic lanes on a major thoroughfare into the city...not smart.


Kevin said...

I disagree. Parallel parking is beneficial to neighborhoods in a number of ways:

-Safer for pedestrians. Instead of walking next to busy traffic, they have a buffer of cars to protect them.

-Encourages infill development. When parallel parking is employed, traffic on the street slows down and helps a neighbhorhood's businesses to increase their food traffic.

Over-widened city streets are wasting their pavement for 22 out of 24 hours of the day on a weekday, and on every hour of the weekend. At least in the city with a grid, if traffic backs up badly, the driver can find nearby alternate routes.

Places like MLK Jr Street have struggled in part because they have served as commuter conduits instead of neighborhood streets. I hope that this new design can help to change that dynamic on MLK Jr.

Kevin said...

Change "food" to "foot.