Ashman & Rodd Corridor Conversion
Downtown Development Authority, Center City Authority Boards Pass Resolutions in Support of Two-Way Restoration
At their September meetings, both the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and Center City Authority (CCA) boards reviewed the potential two-way restoration of Ashman and Rodd Streets as directed to do so by the City Council in July. After holding public meetings on the topic, both boards passed resolutions in support of the streets' restoration to two-way traffic.
Separately, the Midland Downtown Business Association, a group led by Downtown business owners, also voiced its support for the restoration.
Click the meeting thumbnails below to watch the meetings of the DDA and CCA for September.
The Planning Commission held a public hearing on the restoration of two-way traffic on Ashman and Rodd Streets on Tuesday, August 22. They will deliberate and give a final recommendation at their regular meeting on Tuesday, October 10.
City Council Passes Resolution to Refer Project to Business District Boards, Planning Commission for Additional Review
At its July 10, 2023 meeting, the Midland City Council voted 3-1 to pass a resolution that sends the Ashman and Rodd two-way restoration project to the Downtown Development Authority Board, Center City Authority Board, and Planning Commission to provide a detailed review of the potential restoration from their unique perspectives.
The presentation provided to Council was extremely detailed and provided an extensive description of the corridors' history, background of the projects, the "why restore two-way traffic?" question, and other information, so it's highly reccommended to watch this meeting in its entirety.
A Little Bit of Background
When first designed, Ashman and Rodd Streets were both two-way streets. In 1958, the City adopted a Major Street Plan which called for many street changes, including the creation of the Ashman and Rodd Street one-way pairs. This change became effective on October 1, 1961. At that time, many communities went to one-way streets as the best way to move traffic as quickly as possible from one place (usually, into or out of the city's downtown or major center) to another. Now, though, we realize the potential issues associated with this approach: Fewer economic development opportunities, higher vehicle speeds, reduced navigability, and lower safety ratings for pedestrians.
The two-way restoration of Ashman and Rodd Streets is being considered to address the following concerns:
- Provide traffic calming to reduce vehicle speeds and wrong-way driving
- Increase safety for non-motorized users, pedestrians, and motorists
- Improve access and navigability to residential and commercial properties along the corridors
- Provide more connectivity between Downtown, Midtown, and Center City districts
- Improve delivery of City services, including emergency response, curbside collections, and snow plowing
We're in a unique position to analyze this area of our street network at this time because of two separate projects occuring in our community. The first, the Buttles Street Corridor Improvement Project, is a Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) project that will begin reconstruction of Buttles Street from Jerome to State in the 2025 construction year. To provide final design considerations, MDOT needs to know from the City if its designers should design the intersections of Ashman and Rodd with Buttles for one-way or two-way traffic. Other upcoming projects impacted by these streets are Phase II of the Saginaw Road Streetscape Redevelopment Project as part of the Center City Redevelopment Plan and Phase II of the Downtown Streetscape Renovation in Downtown Midland.
Restoration of two-way traffic on Ashman and Rodd Streets has been a topic of conversation and study in Midland throughout the 62 years since the conversion was first implemented, including in the City's current Master Plan. Click the links below to view guiding documents that have discussed this conversion to this point..
- Major Street Plan - 1958 (PDF)
- Circle Area Improvement Strategies Plan - 1991 (PDF)
- Ashman Circle Enhancement Plan - 2002 (PDF)
- Downtown Midland Plan - 1988 (PDF)
- Midtown Zoning Memo to Planning Commission - 2019 (PDF)
- City of Midland Master Plan - Chapter 6: Transportation (PDF)
- City Modern Master Plan Update - Transportation Resources
- City of Midland Complete Streets Policy - 2010 (PDF)
- Midland Downtown Development Authority - Support of One-Way to Two-way Conversion (Video, 2:50 mark)
- Midland Downtown Development Authority - Phase 2 Redevelopment Plan (2018, PDF)
- Midland Downtown Development Authority - Phase 1 Redevelopment Plan (2016, PDF)
- Center City Redevelopment Plan - 2019 (PDF)
A timeline of recent and anticipated future action on the two-way restoration is provided below. Updates or actions that are reviewable by document, webpage, or video are linked where appropriate.
- January 2022 - City Council directs staff to review potential two-way restoration at its annual retreat
- February 2022 - Council approves submission of RFP for potential restoration study (Video - 1:54:00 mark)
- March 2022 - Planning Commission receives update on potential restoration (Video - 40:00 mark)
- May 2022 - City Council approves contract for OHM Advisors to study potential restoration (Video - 2:04:00 mark)
- December 2022 - City Council receives study results, requests public input (Video - 1:15:00 mark)
- April 2023 - Public input open houses held in Downtown, Center City (PDF)
- May 2023 - Online public input topic opened for comment
- June 2023 - City Council hears public input results; asks for additional info (Video - 42:00 mark)
- July 2023 - City Council hears additional info on project; refers to boards for review (Video - 15:32 mark)
- July 19, 2023 - Center City Authority hears initial project information, requests additional business input (Video - 02:00 mark)
- August 22, 2023 - Initial presentation and discussion with Planning Commission (Video - 01:54:00 mark)
- September 13, 2023 (anticipated) - Final recommendation from Downtown Development Authority
- September 20, 2023 (anticipated) - Final recommendation from Center City Authority
- September 26, 2023 (anticipated) - Final recommendation from Planning Commission
In February 2022, City staff asked the Midland City Council for its blessing to hire a consultant to address the potential conversion of Ashman and Rodd from one-way to two-way vehicle traffic. Local civil engineering firm OHM Advisors was selected to complete this study, which determined that two-way conversion is possible for both of these streets. Please note: No final decision has been made about the conversion by the Midland City Council at this time.
Graphic: Comparison of Considerations - One-Way vs. Two-Way Traffic on Ashman & RoddClick here to read the full study (PDF)
Graphic: Comparison of Traffic Counts - Ashman & Rodd vs. Other Major Streets
A comparison of the traffic counts from 2022 on Ashman and Rodd Streets has been made to other similar streets with the City of Midland. This assists in the visualization of how the number of cars utilizing Ashman and Rodd Streets compares to other major streets with two-way traffic and similar context, including Swede Avenue, Jefferson Avenue, and Waldo Avenue. Traffic counts on Ashman and Rodd Streets are very similar to these other two-way streets at key intersections, and even in many places see less vehicle traffic.
(Click the image above for a PDF version of this graph)
Word on the Street(s) Talks Conversion
In Season 3 Episode 1 of the City's "Word on the Street(s)" podcast, City staff discuss the Ashman and Rodd conversion, provide insight into the "why" behind the project, share what they heard from open house attendees, and detail what's next for this potential project. Click the video above to watch.
What would Ashman and Rodd look like as two-way streets?
As no decision has been made about the two-way conversion at this time, full design of these corridors hasn't been completed yet. However, we've created a series of renderings at key intersections for both Ashman and Rodd Streets to give residents an idea what they could look like with two-way traffic. Check out the slideshow below or click here to view a PDF of all renderings.
Public Input on the Project
Open Houses Share Info, Collect Input from Corridor Users
The City of Midland hosted a series of five public open houses April 18 - 20 at locations in Downtown Midland and Center City to share information and collect feedback on the future of Ashman and Rodd Streets. Approximately 100 residents attended the drop-in style events to view sample project designs, discuss concerns with staff, and ask questions about the potential conversion.You can read a complete report of the comments received at these open houses and view all visuals shared with attendees via a report from PM Blough, Inc. by clicking here.
Online Input Topic Collects Comments on Focus Areas
As a complement to the 5 in-person open houses, an online option was made available on the City's online engagement plaform, E-CityHall, in early May 2023. The blog-style input topic breaks the project down into easy-to-consume functional areas with the opportunity for corridor users to learn more about the project and provide comments and feedback on these areas. While the topic is now closed to public comment, you can read all the information shared and residents' comments by clicking here.
Case Studies & Thought Leadership
The truth is, we're not the only community to consider and/or transition streets from one-way to two-way traffic. Check out the links below for some of the topic points discussed in the episode, as well as examples of previous one-way to two-way conversions:
- "Kalamazoo is Ditching Most of Its One Ways" (MLive, 2023)
- Convert Kalamazoo Avenue - A Streets for All Project (Imagine Kalamazoo, 2023)
- One-Way to Two-Way Street Conversion (City of Lansing, MI - 2022) (PDF)
- "Start with the Streets: How Anyone Can Make Their City Safer & Wealthier, One Block at a Time" (Strong Towns, 2021) (PDF)
- "Cities Benefit from Restoring Two-Way Traffic" (Congress for New Urbanism, 2019) (PDF)
- "The Small Indiana City That's Embracing Livable Streets" (Streetsblog USA, 2014)
- Chinatown One-Way Street Conversion Study (City of Oakland, CA - 2009) (PDF)
- Conversion of One-Way Street Pairs to Two-Way Operations (City of Birmingham, AL 2008) (PDF)