JACKSON, MI – Slowly over the past decade, the city of Jackson has converted one-way streets to handle two-way traffic. In 2017, that initiative reaches downtown.

The current one-way downtown Jackson loop – which encompasses Louis Glick Highway/I-94 Business Loop and Washington Avenue – could begin its transition to two-way traffic as early as April 2017, said Mark Grazioli, the Michigan Department of Transportation’s Jackson transportation service center manager.

Click here to view a map of downtown Jackson.

“The city approached us, simply on the premise that it would open up the city for a little bit easier traffic flow patterns,” Grazioli said.

The project’s price tag is an estimated $5 million, Grazioli said, with $1.5 million coming from MDOT and the rest coming from the city. Grazioli has been involved with the project conversations for the past four years.

However, for this project, there isn’t an official agreement in place yet between the city and MDOT, said City Engineer Jon Dowling.

Projected timeline, changes

MDOT begins the process of turning in plans to prospective contractors in January. In March, MDOT will receive specific cost estimates from contractors and select one.

If all goes according to plan, construction would start in April and finish in November, Grazioli said.

The largest changes come at the major intersections of the loop – where Washington Avenue, Michigan Avenue and Louis Glick Highway converge to the west and where Cooper Street, Michigan Avenue and Louis Glick Highway converge to the east.

Both sections will be redesigned and repaved. Besides striping and signage, other changes include changing traffic signals and adjusting the turn radius of some intersections.

The construction project runs in conjunction with another MDOT project for the summer of 2017, where crews will complete a reconstruction of W. Michigan Avenue from Steward Avenue to Brown Street.

Throughout both construction projects, at least one lane will remain open to motorists, Grazioli said.

Why change?

While one-way streets move traffic more efficiently, two-way streets offer more convenience.

“The city of Jackson has decreased in population over the past 30 or 40 years,” Grazioli said. “So when the one-way pairs were put in, the population and the traffic was considerably different than it is now.”

The city started the street conversions in the 2000s following a study, Dowling said. Other portions of streets that were converted to two-way traffic included Blackstone Street, Lansing Avenue, Francis Street and Cooper Street.

Downtown developers indicated they prefer two-way traffic, prompting the city to get this project rolling.

One example is the Lofts on Louis mixed-use development at 209 W. Louis Glick Highway. The buyer didn’t have to close on the sale of the property from the city before receiving a commitment in writing that the loop would be converted for two-way traffic.

This project broke ground Nov. 4.

By Taylor DesOrmeau | tdesorme@mlive.com
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on December 01, 2016 at 12:43 PM, updated December 02, 2016 at 11:41 AM