Livability Solutions

From a Through Street to a Main Street: Oak Park, MI

June 2015

   Host: 

City of Oak Park

Source: 

Challenge

Oak Park is located northwest of Detroit. While its tight-knit neighborhoods are eminently walkable, the presence of several east-west arterials, spaced at intervals of one mile, pose significant barriers for pedestrians who wish to cross them and bicyclists and transit users who wish to travel along them. One such arterial - West 9 Mile Road - divides Oak Park and does the same for the neighboring communities of Ferndale and Southfield. Frendale recently completed a road diet on a portion of West 9 Mile Road to foster a downtown atmosphere and improve opportunities for walking and biking. The City of Oak Park applied to Livability Solutions for technical assistance to perform a similar transformation of its portion of West 9 Mile Road.

The City, in collaboration with Project for Public Spaces and Livability Solutions' designated technical assistance provider (Congress for New Urbanism), defined the following objectives for technical assistance:

  1. Drafting a conceptual plan for the redesign of 3 to 3.63 miles of West 9 Mile Road.
  2. Preparing the City to select an engineering firm to implement the workshop's recommendations.
  3. Preparing the City to apply for funding for West 9 Mile Road infrastructure improvements by identifying needed data and sources for data.
  4. Preparing the City to develop a non-motorized transportation plan by providing street and urban design principles that support walkability.

Process

As a lead up to the technical assistance, the Congress for New Urbanism (CNU) worked with Oak Park to collect traffic and technical information about 9 Mile Road. These data were used throughout the technical assistance process and incorporated into the final report.

The first day of on-site technical assistance started with a tour of the West 9 Mile Road corridor. That evening a public workshop was held to gather stakeholder feedback on the corridor. The day concluded with CNU presenting to the Oak Park City Council on the purpose of and goals for the technical assistance.

The second day of on-site technical assistance began with working meetings with the Mayor, several heads of city departments, business owners, and leaders from several community-based organizations to get their input and gain their support for CNU's street design recommendations. That afternoon CNU held a walk-in open house to continue gathering stakeholder feedback and to begin discussion of design alternatives. The day ended with the project team, composed of CNU and key City staff, reconvening to synthesize stakeholder feedback and design recommendations.

The morning of the third day was spent by the project team in a design studio, creating the preferred alternative for the new West 9 Mile Road corridor. The on-site technical assistance concluded in the City Council chamber with a public presentation and discussion of the preferred design alternative. The presentation was aired on the City's public access cable channel.

The proposed design alternatives were informed by the FHWA-endorsed Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares manual and FHWA-endorsed Context Sensitive Solutions.

Outcomes

Based on the preferred alternative design developed at the workshop, the City selected an engineering firm to produce a final plan and cost estimates for the redesign.

The City has broken up the project into phases and established a corridor improvement authority to assist with fundraising and grant applications.

Funding was obtained from the County to close a side street to create a public space along West 9 Mile Road.

The City has applied to the Michigan DOT for project funding. If the funding request is approved construction along the corridor will take place in 2018.