The City of Detroit is conducting a demonstration project on a roughly half-mile stretch of Livernois Avenue to test the idea of calming traffic, installing bike lanes and making other improvements to give a boost to businesses in the city’s so-called “Avenue of Fashion.”
Crews have installed orange barrels, temporary signage and rubber crosswalk mats, with lines temporarily painted on the pavement to mark bike lanes and a barrier from the parking lanes, which take up one of two lanes of traffic as Livernois is currently constructed. The project is set up between 7 Mile Road and St. Martins Avenue in the steadily rejuvenating commercial corridor.
“The project is a temporary demonstration to look at how adding amenities like bike lanes can add to the commercial pedestrian and bike friendly atmosphere,” Kim Tandy, the District 2 Manager from the Detroit Department of Neighborhoods, wrote on Nextdoor, a neighborhood social networking site.
Tandy said that an similar demonstration project on three blocks of Livernois closer to 6 Mile Road showed that motorists were driving as fast as 75 mph on the avenue, which has posted speed limits of 30 mph. She said the narrowing of the road and temporary bike lanes, benches and bike racks helped encourage people to drive the speed limit.
She wrote that the city has also installed equipment on Livernois, Stoepel and Warrington to track how fast people are driving and how many people are using the side streets as a bypass.
I was unable to reach Tandy to ask more questions about the project and the city’s plans. The project is reportedly a collaboration between the Department of Neighborhoods, the Planning Department and the Department of Public Works.
“The City is also looking at ways to improve the street in other ways including looking at ways to improve parking and the median,” Tandy wrote. “Many acknowledge the concerns about the median and the issues with the turn arounds, lack of landscaping, cross walks and the size of the median.”
Called the “Avenue of Fashion” because of its status as a once-vibrant shopping district, the section of Livernois is undergoing a small revival. The boulevard has seen the opening of several small and popup businesses, including the celebrated Kuzzo’s Chicken and Waffles.
Recently, Motor City Brewing Works announced plans to open a satellite taproom next to another restaurant called Slyde. Tandy also noted plans to open a new location for Bucharest Grill, Southern Comfort Soul Food and that “several other retailers are looking at spaces as we speak.” Another developer plans a $5 million retail and residential redevelopment at Livernois and 7 Mile.
“All of these things are happening together again to make the commercial district an asset to our great neighborhoods. I have been working on Livenois for some time and we are finally getting the support and the investment in order to make it a reality,” Tandy wrote.
Installing bike lanes could connect that section of Livernois to its continuation in Ferndale, where bike lanes were installed a few years ago between 8 and 9 Mile roads on a strip that has also started to see renewed interest for development.
Tandy says the city plans to hold a series of community meetings and send out surveys regarding the proposed changes. The demonstration project will be up until Sept. 1.