Putting Woodward on a serious road diet

Woodward Avenue in Detroit between McNichols and Eight Mile is ten lanes wide and carries roughly 30,000 motor vehicles a day.

With that traffic volume, Woodward is twice as wide as needed. That translates to:

  • Roughly twice as expensive to maintain in good repair
  • Twice as expensive to light
  • Twice as expensive to remove snow
  • Twice as much water run off flowing to storm sewers

And wide roads are much more difficult for pedestrians to cross safely. They also encourage speeding.

One interesting idea: change the road so that only the five northbound lanes are used. South of the Eight Mile bridge, vehicles would crossover and use a two-way 5 lane road which includes a center turn lane. Similar, but temporary crossovers are used during expressway construction when half of the road is under construction. Curbside parking would remain on the northbound curb.

This would free up the existing five lanes of southbound Woodward for other uses?

We imagine two lanes closest to the median would be dedicated to Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). The curb lane would be for a two-way cycletrack for bicyclists. The middle lanes could be permeable to absorb storm water and while also having space for southbound BRT stations.

This redesign could also reduce the footprint of the overly built Woodward and McNichols intersection.

Sound crazy? Remember that Woodward south of McNichols is effectively has six lanes during rush hour and five lanes at other times.

It’s an idea we’ll definitely pitch during the upcoming Woodward Complete Streets planning process, scheduled to get underway very soon now.

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