Talking Points Regarding
East Medical Center Drive Bridge
February 3, 2023
There is a brief opportunity to improve bicycling and walking infrastructure on a project that has until now been on track to make things worse for bikers and walkers. Ann Arbor City Council is scheduled to consider the redesign of the East Medical Center Drive bridge over the railroad to the U-M hospital at their February 21st meeting.
In response to concerns from City Council, the proposed design was modified to make things less bad for walkers and bikers, but not good. Since there were still concerns, Council, at their January 23rd meeting, directed staff to provide additional options and cost information at their February 21st meeting. Redesign is expected in 2023 and construction in 2024.
Problems and issues with the bridge widening plan as proposed
● There are only 6 opportunities to cross the railroad within 1 mile of Medical Center Dr.
Huron Parkway - 4 lanes, protected 8’ sidewalks both sides
Gallup Park pathway
Medical Center Drive - 4 lanes, 10’6” paths each side
Fuller Road – 5 lanes, 10’ path and 7’ sidewalk
Broadway St – 4 lanes, protected 10’ paths each side
Argo underpass to Border-2-Border trail
● Construction will not make any progress toward connecting the decades old plan of connecting to the B2B via the underpass.
● Over a 1,000 commuter employee parking spaces are located north of the railroad tracks, 15-minutes walking distance to the hospital.
● The addition of a vehicle lane will increase vehicle capacity, in direct opposition of stated goals defined in Ann Arbor's Vision Zero transportation plan, A2Zero climate action plan and the U-M President's Commission on Carbon Neutrality.
● Overall lack of opportunities for public review in the initial planning for a project of this scale diminishes public interests, particularly bicyclists and walkers. The project status, particularly in regards to the costly redesigns and length of time that this project has taken, is likely the result of hearing community concerns after the design was completed.
If you wish to communicate about this project, consider these items:
● The west sidewalk should be widened from 10.5’ to about 15’.
● Council should direct staff to prepare a design for this, develop a cost estimate, and identify the necessary funding.
● Council should direct staff to expeditiously negotiate a solution to MDOT’s concerns so that the planned trail loop under the bridge can be completed at the same time as the bridge.
● Since the project as proposed would add a vehicle lane to the bridge for cars, it is appropriate to also improve facilities for walkers and cyclists.
● A long-lasting investment like a bridge should be done right and should comport with city and U-M climate and safety plans. These plans call for a substantial increase in biking and walking, and improved infrastructure supports this goal.
What you can do
If you would like to help, you can contact your City Council representatives (email addresses and phone numbers are here). If you wish, you can make use of the material above and the linked material to express your concerns. Please use your own words and be civil. Council members share many of the concerns discussed here. If you would like more information, you can email Walk Bike Washtenaw via the info@ address on the “Contact” tab at walkbikewashtenaw.org.