Indian & Buttles Streets Corridor Study

A red SUV, white truck, and other vehicles drive through the Buttles Street road diet trial area

In May 2018, Midland City Council approved a 3-year lane reduction study of Buttles Street. This study temporarily barricades the far right lane of Buttles Street from M-20/Jerome Street to State Street in an effort to observe how the road would function as a two-lane street. During the 3-year study phase, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) will periodically monitor the study area to observe four key factors of roadway service level: traffic speeds, traffic volume, traffic accidents, and traffic delays and back-ups. 

Prior to the 2018 study being approved by City Council, MDOT also conducted several multi-day test closures on portions of Buttles Street in August 2017 and November 2017 prior to suggesting a full-scale trial be implemented. Monitoring first took place after a 6-month period in 2018, then proceeds to occur annually from the May 2018 through the end of the trial period. Throughout the study period, MDOT representatives and City staff report current data findings and observations to City Council and the general public at scheduled City Council meetings.

To view documents, presentations, and videos related to these findings, see the "City Presentations" sidebar.

Why consider a "road diet" in this area?

As MDOT and the City of Midland reviewed the 2015 study and planned for the future of our community, several goals were identified for the Indian and Buttles street corridors:

  • Improve safety for motorized and non-motorized transportation users
  • Encourage economic development in the corridor
  • Improve inter-neighborhood connectivity and mobility
  • Develop a corridor that better reflects current roadway design standards and best practices for both motorized and non-motorized uses

In each consideration, lane reductions have proven to be an effective tool utilized by transportation engineers and urban planners to meet these conditions. Keep reading to learn more about the vision for this corridor, the "whys" behind the study, and updates on current study data. You can also find a helpful list of documents on the right sidebar (desktop) or bottom of the page (mobile) to find public meeting presentations, study documents, and more.

Where did this idea begin?

Beginning in 2015, MDOT commissioned a study with consulting firms MKSK Studios and DLZ to analyze the entire US 10 Business Route corridor in both directions from Washington Street to Airport Road. The final study report, presented to Midland City Council in March 2017, included observations from consultants and public input collected by MDOT as well as a list of viable alternative options for improving traffic flow and pedestrian usage through the corridor. One of these options included a lane reduction on both Indian and Buttles streets in the current road diet trial area. Click the links below to see more information related to the US 10 BR Corridor Study.

Related items:

Video: History of the Indian & Buttles Street Corridor

If you're a newer resident to Midland, you might be surprised to learn that Buttles and Indian haven't always been three-lane thoroughfares. Watch the video above to learn more about the history of this corridor and why, now, it may make sense for a lane reduction to take place.

Share your input on the Buttles Street road diet trial

Recent Updates 

November 2019: Council Requests Trial End 

At its November 18, 2019 City Council meeting, the Midland City Council discussed the future of the Buttles Street road diet trial. At that time, Council voted to request that MDOT complete the current road diet trial by the end of the calendar year 2019. If MDOT believes additional data is needed to successfully end the trial, Council has asked that MDOT provide what additional data is needed and an estimated time frame for completion. On Thursday, November 21, City Manager Brad Kaye sent a letter to MDOT reflecting Council's position.

A letter from City Manager Brad Kaye to MDOT regarding the Buttles Street road diet trial

Click here to read a copy of the letter

It is anticipated that MDOT will attend an upcoming City Council to provide the most recently-collected study data and make its recommendation about the future of Buttles Street.

Watch the video below beginning at the 1:02:25 mark to listen to Council discussion regarding the road diet trial.

City Council Meeting - November 18, 2019

December 2019: MDOT to Remove Bollards, Conclude Trial Period

On December 9, 2019, MDOT responded to the City Council's letter asking for the trial period to conclude by the end of the calendar year. In its letter, MDOT indicates that it is satisfied with the amount of data collection received during the trial period and will return Buttles Street to a 3-lane configuration by the end of December 2019. MDOT will conduct additional data collection in January 2020 after the return to a 3-lane configuration and, following the conclusion of this data collection period, will return to City Council in February or March 2020 with a final analysis of all data collection and recommendation to Council. At that time, Council will make a decision regarding the future of the Indian and Buttles corridors.

MDOT to City - Road Diet Trial End Letter 12.9.19

Click here to read a copy of the letter

Watch the Council meeting below to hear a discussion about MDOT's letter and the end to the road diet trial period. The discussion begins at the 50:05 mark.

City Council Meeting - December 9, 2019

What is the study trying to address?
Overhead photo of vehicles sitting at the corner of Jerome and Buttles

At the highest level, the Indian & Buttles Corridor Study is just that - a study to determine if Buttles Street can function as a two-lane road. However, the study is a part of an overall vision to transform Indian and Buttles streets into an area of the community that's functional and safe for all users - vehicles and pedestrians - while encouraging economic growth and development, neighborhood connectivity, and increased non-motorized use.

Lane reductions are conducted in communities throughout the United States for a variety of reasons. The current Indian & Buttles Corridor Study seeks to address six key factors that are vital to the future success of our downtown corridor and, to a larger extent, the entire community:

  • Traffic
  • Safety
  • Economic Development
  • Non-motorized Mobility
  • Connectivity
  • Context Sensitive Design/Solutions

For more information on each of these factors, please click on the tabs below to pull up more details. (The tab you're currently viewing will be shown in green; additional tabs available to be clicked will be shown in gray.)

  1. Traffic
  2. Safety
  3. Economic Development
  4. Non-Motorized Mobility 
  5. Context Sensitive Design
  6. Connectivity

Corridor Traffic

Since 2017, MDOT has observed the road diet trial area several times to understand how the road is performing:

  • August 28 - 30, 2017
  • November 6 - 13, 2017
  • September 25 - 28, 2018
  • October 12 - 14, 2018
  • March 3 - 9, 2019
  • April 28 - May 4, 2019
  •  May 7 – 8, 2019

When conducting roadway studies, MDOT and the City are analyzing four areas: vehicle speed, traffic volume, back-ups and delays, and accident data. Metrics for the first three areas are collected on-site by MDOT, while the fourth is provided by the Midland Police Department and other local agencies. Let's take a look at the most recent data for each area.

Traffic Volumes

Traffic volumes in the Buttles Street corridor have remained relatively consistent during the road diet trial as they have in previous years. Recent field counts found 13,875 vehicles per day at Jerome Street in 2018, right around the 5-year average volume, and a slight increase of about 1,100 vehicles per day at State Street. Volumes for the past 9 years as provided by MDOT are listed below:

Monitor location201820172016201520142013201220112010
SE of Jerome St
SE of State St13,520N/A11,89211,24712,62412,54113,12312,34112,605

Vehicle Speeds

Buttles Street's posted speed limit through the corridor from Jerome to State Street is 35 miles per hour, increasing to 45 miles per hour at State. Prior to the lane reduction trial's implementation, vehicle speeds were frequently observed over the posted speed limit.

A graph of average vehicle speed on Buttles at Jerome

The red line on the above graph shows the street’s speed limit of 35 miles per hour. At the most recent traffic monitoring by MDOT in April and May 2019, traffic speed observed at Buttles and Fitzhugh stayed at or below this speed limit with no impact on the flow of traffic.

A graph of average vehicle speed on Buttles at State

During a similar observation period by MDOT in March 2019, Traffic observed at Buttles and State Street actually consistently stayed above the posted speed limit; however, this is at the end of the road diet trial area where the speed limit increases to 45 miles per hour. Drivers may naturally begin to speed up in this area in anticipation of the increase in speed limit or because they’re leaving the two-lane area.

Traffic Delays & Back-ups

Traffic delay studies identify the number of vehicles that are left waiting at a signalized intersection through more than one light cycle. During MDOT’s delay studies in May 2019, September 2018, and November 2017, no traffic delays in the road diet trial area were found.

Vehicle Accidents

From May 2018 to April 2019, 37 crashes were observed in the road diet study area. This number is an increase of 11 crashes - or 42% - over the same time period from 2017-2018 (26). While this is the largest number of accidents the corridor has seen in the past decade, it's not the largest percentage increase in year-over-year crashes that the corridor area has seen. 

These 37 accidents in the corridor accounted for a very small percentage of total accidents in the community:

  • 1.9% (1,946) of all crashes in the City of Midland in 2018
  • 1.3% (2,755) of all crashes in Midland County in 2018

See the chart below for the description of each accident type. 

Crashes by Type

While it's not unusual to see an increase in vehicle accidents in an area where traffic patterns have recently changed, it's important to dive deeper into the data to determine what we're seeing. In the first year of the road diet trial, 17 (46%) of the 37 accidents recorded by the Midland Police Department were the result of a driver running a red light on either Buttles Street or a cross-street. Failure to obey a traffic control signal or device is almost exclusively attributable to driver error and would not be less likely to occur with 3 lanes of travel on Buttles Street. See below for a breakdown of ticketed driver actions based upon these accidents. 

(Please note: As a motorist can be ticketed for multiple offenses in each incident, the totals for each year will not add up to the total accidents for the same time period.)

Crashes by Ticket

Related Items

WATCH: Public Information Session - August 14, 2019

City staff held public information sessions on Thursday, August 8 and Wednesday, August 14 to  invite residents to learn more about the road diet trial, review current statistics, and take a walking tour of the corridor to experience it as a pedestrian. The evening included a presentation by Director of Planning & Community Development Grant Murschel and a discussion of residents' observations at the end. 

Watch the video below to see what you missed!

Public Input: Meetings and Information Sessions

In addition to regularly-scheduled City public meetings, additional opportunities for public involvement have also been implemented during the road diet trial. 

Public Information Session & Walking Tour - August 14, 2019

Two public information sessions and walking tours of the corridor were held on Thursday, August 8 and Wednesday, August 14 at City Hall that covered an overview of the proposed trial, current data and statistics, and an opportunity for attendees to experience the corridor on foot and share their feedback. Watch the video below to see the August 14, 2019 meeting.

Related items:

City Council Community Conversation - September 18, 2019

On Wednesday, September 18, a special meeting of the Midland City Council was held at Memorial Presbyterian Church in Midland to facilitate a community conversation between City staff, residents, the Michigan Department of Transportation, and Council. City staff provided an overview of the study, followed by attendees' forming small groups to discuss the six objectives of the study to provide feedback, ask questions, and offer suggestions. Watch the video below to view the meeting.

Related item:

E-CityHall Online Public Survey

Through September 30, residents and M-20 corridor users are also encouraged to share their input with City staff and the Midland City Council on the City's E-CityHall public engagement platform. Click here to access the survey.

Future vision for the corridor

Now that we've covered the reasons why this trial has been executed, let's address the next question: What would Indian and Buttles streets look like if they were taken down to two-lane roads? If the road diet trial were to be implemented, we’d rely on the public’s input to help shape the actual design, but MDOT provided some potential options for this corridor at its 2016 US-10 Corridor Study open house that residents were able to discuss. Find them below.

US-10 Corridor Study - Options

ARTICLE: Can less be more?

A screenshot of an article by Catalyst Midland Opens in new window

What are we looking to accomplish through this road diet trial? City staff sat down with Catalyst Midland to talk about our vision for the future of Buttles and Indian streets that could become a reality if the road diet trial proves successful. Click the image above to read the article.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you still have questions about the road diet trial after reviewing the information above, please look through a few of our FAQs to see if your question has been asked before!

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Contact Us

  1. Grant Murschel

    Director of Planning and Community Development
    Email Grant Murschel

    Midland City Hall
    333 W Ellsworth Street
    Midland, MI 48640

    Phone: 989-837-3374


    Monday - Friday
    8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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