opinion: Editorial supporting Jackson Road change is misleading
AnnArbor.com's editorial in support of the Jackson Avenue lane reduction project, “Public furor aside, rationale for changing Jackson Avenue to three lanes is sound,” (July 8, 2012) is both misleading and incomplete.
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
1. Although the project is described as a reduction from four lanes to three, the fact is that traffic throughput would be reduced from four lanes to two (the third lane would be for turns only). How could a 50% reduction in travel lanes improve traffic flow, especially given that all four lanes are currently full during heavy traffic times?
2. You characterize as a "misperception" the idea that "the project is being done primarily to allow bike lanes." However, bicycles are the exclusive focus in the lead paragraph of a Washtenaw Area Transportation Study document submitted to MDOT on April 10, 2012 in support of the lane conversion. That paragraph includes the following statement: "The Non-Motorized Plan identified Jackson Road from Maple to Dexter as a location of a future bike improvement. The Complete Streets Plan also identifies this corridor as one needing bike improvements." And this isn't primarily about bicycles? Moreover, it's worth noting that, for those seeking a bicycle-friendly route between Maple/Stadium and downtown Ann Arbor, Liberty Street already provides that accommodation.
3. Although I agree that significant improvements are needed for pedestrian crossings on Jackson, there is no relationship at all between that issue and the number of traffic lanes. You provide no argument to show that a lane reduction would benefit pedestrians. Crosswalks and/or pedestrian-operated signals could be installed across the current four lanes just as easily as three (they already exist at the intersection of Jackson and Maple).
4. You express alarm over the 53 sideswipe or rear-end accidents that reportedly occurred from 2008 to 2010 (I assume that this covers just two years). However, using your own figures on a street that averages 15,500 cars per day, the cited accident rate reflects one in every 213,491 vehicles, or one accident approximately every two weeks. That hardly seems extraordinary for a major thoroughfare. Data drawn from semcog.org indicate that more than 2,700 crashes of these very types occurred in Ann Arbor during 2008-2009.
As a resident who lives on a street adjacent to the proposed project, I often experience extreme delays when attempting onto Jackson from one of the neighborhood side streets (left turns can be virtually impossible). With traffic reduced to just one lane going in each direction, the wait time can only get much worse.