Partnership in the news: Re-imagining the Washtenaw Avenue corridor
Auto-centric Washtenaw Avenue corridor in Ann Arbor, MI. Photo via Ann Arbor News

Later this month, planners in Washtenaw County, Michigan will unveil a plan for a re-imagined  Washtenaw Avenue, a 4.5-mile corridor connecting Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, MI. The corridor will undergo a makeover to better support mixed-use development and all modes of travel, thanks in part to a $3 million grant from the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

Washtenaw Avenue is the busiest corridor in in the county, averaging between 28,000 to 40,000 vehicle trips per day. However, the auto-centric pattern of parking lots and strip malls lacks mixed-use development and is not safe for pedestrians and bicyclists using the roadway. Planners evaluated different strategies for improvements to the corridor and will reveal their detailed plan to the public on December 11, 2013.

County planners took a careful look at redeveloping the corridor through a mixed-use, transit-oriented development lens in order to capitalize on the avenue’s potential for economic development. Their strategy is to promote infill development at key locations, foster new mixed-use neighborhoods, revitalize existing neighborhoods, improve alternative transit choices, and promote an active urban setting. The plan also calls for significant roadway improvements including dedicated bus lanes, buffered bike lanes, wider sidewalks and landscaped green spaces that will make for a more attractive and safer roadway for all users.

The project has already spurred private investment, including the construction of the Arbor Hills Crossing Shopping Center, the largest retail development in Ann Arbor in over a decade. “It’s exciting to see all the changes already taking place along the corridor, and this study provided short-term and long-term solutions for adding bike lanes, safer facilities for pedestrians like mid-block crossings, and enhanced transit stops to the corridor,” said Nathan Voght, project manager for the ReImagine Washtenaw project.

With existing infrastructure and transit already in place, Washtenaw Avenue is an ideal place to spur economic development and create new jobs through transit oriented development projects.

Funding for ReImagine Washtenaw was made in part through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) to help communities improve access to affordable housing, increase transportation options, and lower transportation costs while promoting sustainable practices.

If you support the partnership and other similar programs, ask your congressman to fund these programs today!