The First and Ashley Project will:
- Restore First and Ashley streets to two-way
- Add a two-way protected bike lane to the east side of First Street
- Enhance streetscape and pedestrian experience along portions of the corridor
- Improve loading, drop-off, and other curbside street uses
- Advance implementation of the Treeline Urban Trail
Project nearing completion: Two-way traffic will be restored on First & Ashley beginning the week of August 9, 2021.
The goal of this project is to create a street that attracts more people and makes the street safer and more comfortable for all users. We want everyone—from a resident in his wheelchair to a teen on her bike—to enjoy chatting, shopping, working and playing on these streets.
The project is being done in coordination with the William Street Bikeway and the Huron Street Project
We will complete the project in 4 phases:
- Feasibility & Design Phases: Fall 2018
- Engineering Phase: 2019
- Construction Phase: First Street – Spring 2020 / Spring 2021
- Construction Phase: Ashley Street – Winter 2021
The Ann Arbor DDA is funding this project and will work closely with the City of Ann Arbor, downtown businesses, residents, visitors, and other stakeholders.
Questions about this project should be directed to Amber Miller at the Ann Arbor DDA or 734-994-6697.
First and Ashley streets from Kingsley to Madison.
Why are these streets changing from one-way to two-way?
First and Ashley streets were historically two-way streets. They were converted to one-way as part of a proposed downtown bypass project in the late 60’s that was never fully implemented. Both streets were identified as target areas for new streetscape improvements in the 2003 amended DDA Development Plan approved by City Council and in the City’s Non-Motorized Plan, including examining two-way traffic restoration.
Qualitatively, pedestrians will enjoy a better walking experience with anticipated lower vehicular speeds. In addition, two-way streets eliminate the “double threat” for pedestrians crossing the street. A “double threat” can occur on streets with two or more lanes of vehicles traveling in the same direction. If one vehicle stops for a pedestrian and another vehicle overtakes it on either side, the pedestrian may not be visible and be struck.
Additionally, two-way streets support business access and visibility, make streets easier to navigate, support existing and future transit service, and are a catalyst for encouraging reinvestment and vitality.
What are the goals of the First and Ashley Project?
Improve Safety and Comfort
Improve the overall comfort of the street for all users
Emphasize protection for vulnerable users
Advance the Vision Zero objectives
Support business access and visiblity
A catalyst for encouraging reinvestment and vitality
Make the streets easier to navigate
Enhancing the bike network
Support existing and future transit service
Advance implementation of the Treeline Urban Trail
Promote Green Design & Sustainability
Incorporate stormwater management to improve water quality in the Allen Creek Watershed and the Huron River
Improve public health through supporting active transportation
What’s included in this project?
Sidewalk/streetscape improvements, a two-way protected bikelane on the east side of First Street, restoration of two-way traffic, watermain upsizing & consolidations, stormwater improvements, and street resurfacing.
Bump out locations will be added at intersections that do not have commercial loading zone areas. Bump out locations shorten the distance of crosswalks to allow for safer crossing. Intersection controls will be examined for the potential of 4-way stop signs at some locations and loading zone and other curb-side use zones will be studied to increase these areas where feasible.
What will determine the feasibility of this project and how does the project move forward?
The First and Ashley project has been determined to be feasible based on a technical analysis of traffic operations and an assessment of community values and preferences.
On August 9, 2018 City Council unanimously approved the DDA’s request to restore two-way traffic on First and Ashley. The design and engineering phase will continue through 2019 with construction scheduled to begin in the spring of 2020.
How do these projects relate to one another and the Treeline?
First, Ashley and William streets were all identified as “bicycle emphasis” corridors in the Ann Arbor Downtown Street Design Manual. Bicycle emphasis streets are streets which should include dedicated bicycle facilities such as a bicycle lane or a buffered bicycle lane.
The Treeline is a proposed urban trail that runs roughly along the alignment of the historic Allen Creek from the Huron River to Stimson Street south of the Michigan Stadium. A segment of the Treeline urban trail is proposed within the First Street corridor between Liberty and William streets. Implementation of this segment will be considered along with this project.
I drive on First and Ashley, how is this project going to impact my ability to drive through downtown?
The traffic analysis modeled existing traffic patterns and predicted future patterns based on the proposed design direction.
Local trips, those not driving the full length of the project area from Madison to Kingsley, will have a shorter travel time. This represents 85% of vehicles in the evening peak hour. The average delay for any vehicle is 7 seconds. The maximum increase in delay would be 72 seconds for vehicles traveling the full length of Ashley Street during the evening peak hour. The maximum delay on First Street is 48 seconds during the evening peak hour.
What impact will the First and Ashley project have on the safety and comfort of the streets?
Recent studies show that two-way streets are safer than one-way streets due to slower speeds. Two-way streets reduce lane jumping and other aggressive behaviors associated with streets where the driver expectation is to drive faster.
What is a protected bike lane and how is this different from a regular bike lane?
In the case of these projects, protected bike lanes are bike lanes that include some type of physical barrier (e.g bollards, medians, parked cars, etc) or designated buffer space separating the bicycle lane from the adjacent motor vehicle lane.
Here is an example of a protected bike lane, although the exact configuration has not been determined for First Street, this picture reflects elements that are being investigated.
There are many treatments used in creating a network of protected bike lanes. Bicycle turn boxes are one example, watch this video to learn more.
How will the bike lane be maintained?
Two-way bike lanes can accommodate a great variety of equipment, possibly equipment already owned by the City of Ann Arbor. The DDA is working closely with City staff, including Public Works, to evaluate the needs for two-way bike lane maintenance and to do so in coordination with other bike lane maintenance.
How is parking going to be impacted?
Ashley Street: Parking will not be impacted on Ashley Street.
First Street (west side): Parking will remain on the west side of First Street between Ann and Jefferson. Parking will be removed on the west side of the street between Kingsley and Ann Street.
First Street (east side): Parking will be removed on the east side of First Street between Miller and Ann Street. Parking on the east side of the street between Kingsley and Miller will be reduced, remaining spaces will be converted to short term parking/drop-off.
Kingsley Street: Parking will remain but will be reduced between Main and First Street.
The First & Ashley Street project will be completed over two years. First Street construction began spring 2020. Work is complete between William and Huron and will resume north of Huron in March 2021. Construction on Ashley Street is scheduled to begin February 2021.
On August 9, 2018 the Ann Arbor City Council unanimously approved the restoration of two-way traffic on First and Ashley Streets
On July 18, 2018 the City of Ann Arbor Transportation Commission unanimously approved a recommendation to support this project.
Interested in learning more about the public engagement process? A comprehensive summary can be downloaded here.
June 4 – 7 Public Engagement Meetings – Presentation
A series of public engagement meetings and workshops took place March 19 – 22, 2018. A video of the presentation from the opening meeting can viewed here.
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