A traffic study conducted by MDOT in 1959 proposed the idea of 2 one-way streets to relocate the main thoroughfare that then passed through downtown. Prior to 1962, Ellsworth Street served as the primary route through Downtown Midland. In 1962, the change was made to the 2 three-lane one-ways of Indian and Buttles Streets
During the mid-century, traffic planners and road designers had one main goal: move as many vehicles through communities as quickly as possible with the only consideration given to cars. While this approach - called “Motordom” - was efficient for vehicles, it had little to no regard for the impact that those roads would have on the surrounding neighborhoods. This resulted in some very impactful trade-offs that weren’t all positive
Additionally, local traffic on Indian and Buttles during the 1950s - 1980s was heavily influenced by shift changes at the area’s manufacturing employers. As staffing levels have changed, and access routes have shifted into the industrial park, volumes during peak times has greatly decreased on Buttles and Indian Streets. In fact, traffic volumes during the roads’ peak rush hour - between 7-8 a.m. - are down 28% from where they were 30 years ago. This reduction results in a corridor that is overbuilt for current and forecasted future needs.