By Sue Botos
As businesses continue to sprout in the city, officials are looking for ways to be proactive when it comes to improving traffic patterns, particularly on major arteries such as Detroit and Center Ridge roads.
At its June 23 legislative session, City Council gave the go-ahead for the city to enter into an agreement with URS Engineering for a study of traffic and parking designs on Detroit, as well as the feasibility of redeveloping the area that now contains the Marion Ramp.
Since last fall, council has been discussing the future of the ramp, which intersects Detroit near Rocky River United Methodist Church and funnels traffic from the Clifton Park Bridge. Spanning the Rocky River and linking the city with Lakewood, the ramp replaced Marion Court prior to the construction of Interstate 90, and allows drivers the option of continuing straight onto Lake Road or veering right to Detroit.
Mayor Pam Bobst explained at a special legislative meeting on June 9 that the city received a $75,000 grant from NOACA (The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency) Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative (TLCI), covering the bulk of the $93,750 cost of the engineering study. She said the balance would come from the city’s capital improvements fund.
Fielding questions from council members, Bobst stated, “This is only for planning and will be very extensive.” She added that the study could also yield suggestions for pedestrian and bicycle traffic as well as the feasibility of moving the Marion Ramp to make Detroit Road more accessible and walkable.
“This is no pie in the sky. This is an extensive stakeholder process,” Bobst stated. She added that the study will suggest an implementation schedule for the suggested improvements, with some beginning immediately and others phased in over a span of five years.
Bobst also noted that this project is in keeping with the city’s master plan, which calls for a more pedestrian- and bike-friendly community, and will play a part in the assembly of a new master plan. “We will go out for proposals in September for a new master plan,” Bobst stated, adding that “depending on where this process is,” master plan proposals will be reviewed after the first of the year.
The section of Detroit stretching from St. Christopher Church to Wooster Road was a key area identified in the current design.
Safety-service Director Mary Kay Costello commented that receiving the TLCI grant made the city look appealing for further funding from NOACA. “This is foundational. NOACA wants to see this foundation,” she added.
With this in mind, council has officially set the wheels in motion to apply to NOACA and the state’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement Program for funding the updating of traffic signalization along Center Ridge Road. If granted, the funding would cover 80 percent of the $2,310,000 project. Included would be LED lighting and fiber-optic technology, covering the street’s 12 intersections.
These infrastructure improvements come in response to growing city valuation. Bobst stated recently that as of March 31, commercial and residential building permits stand at 537 for the year. She said that while this is down from 580 last year, the amount represents higher valuation. This year’s number stands at $15 million, compared to $9.5 million at the same time in 2013.