Kalamazoo City Commission to vote on control of downtown roads, redevelopment plans

The Kalamazoo City Commission will consider transferring ownership of several city trunkline roads from MDOT to the city. (WWMT)

The Kalamazoo City Commission will vote on several items Monday night that could have a big impact on downtown Kalamazoo.

One of the biggest items up for vote is the transfer of control of several miles of major trunkline roads from MDOT to the city of Kalamazoo.

The city has wanted to take control of several downtown roads for a while, according to Andrew Haan, president of the Downtown Kalamazoo Partnership. Those roads include Stadium Drive, Westnedge Avenue, Park Street, Michikal Street and segments of King Highway and M-43 that cross through downtown.

Haan said they want to make downtown streets safer and easier to navigate for drivers and pedestrians. Changes could include turning one-way streets into two-way streets, and adjusting or adding speed limits or traffic signals.

If approved, these roads would no longer serve as state trunklines, and the city would have total control of the streets, including maintenance and repair. As part of the deal MDOT would give the city a $11.7 million lump sum payment to cover major repairs for the next 10 years.

If the commission votes to pass the agreement, city officials expect any work will begin sometime in 2020.

Eliminating blighted and vacant buildings is at the heart of another proposal up for a vote. The city would change zoning ordinances to allow them the freedom to develop its neighborhoods. The proposal is tied to the Imagine Kalamazoo 2025 plan.

The city also looks to transfer property at 1101 Portage Street from the county land bank to a housing partnership, Kalamazoo Creamery Limited Dividend Housing Association Limited Partnership (Creamery LP) for redevelopment. The city said Creamery LP already started securing tax credits to assist them in turning the site into mixed commercial and residential spaces. Creamery LP said they plan to make the majority of the newly created housing units meet affordable housing standards.

Another proposal, the Complete Streets Initiative, aims to protect cyclists and pedestrians. Ordinances outlining the rights and responsibilities of cyclists, pedestrians and drivers already exist, but the city wants to make them stronger. They want to strengthen the language in city codes to require drivers to stop for pedestrians and cyclists at crosswalks. The proposal also aims to change language in ordinances to include cyclists and pedestrians who use sidewalks in lieu of riding in the street.

The Kalamazoo City Commission meeting starts at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall.


MDOT streets could be turned over to Kalamazoo following Monday vote

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