The team has also drawn inspiration from the National Association of City Transportation plans and general global trends.
“It’s just the way the world is going,” Stevens said. “I’m excited to see Ferndale doing that, especially with Woodward, which is a very iconic road, so it’s not a small thing to try something like this here.”
Ferndale was also the first city to put down white stripes for biking lanes, the mayor said.
“We’re not the only city having these issues along the Woodward corridor, but we are the first to attempt to bring some real safety,” Piana said.
Backers cite data that say the road can handle reduction in vehicle lanes. SEMCOG’s 2013 and 2015 annual average daily traffic, or ADT, estimates compiled by the city of Ferndale show that the northbound segment of Woodward Avenue saw 15,000 to 17,900 vehicles a day, and the southbound segment, excluding underpass and overpass portions, saw 13,500 to 23,000 vehicles a day.
The Federal Highway Administration estimates that four-lane roads with an ADT of 20,000 or less are good candidates for road diets and won’t significantly affect motor vehicles while improving conditions for other modes of transportation.
“This is about modernizing Woodward, so that we’re responding to community needs as they are today,” Piana told Crain’s.
Stevens said the estimated completion deadline is late fall 2023. The bulk of the work will commence next spring, but starting October 17 through mid-November, or as weather permits, the city will focus on the middle lanes. Troy-based Ajax Paving Industries Inc. was awarded the prime bid for the project, Ferndale Department of Public Works director Dan Antosik told Crain’s, and Merlo Construction Inc. in Milford is aiding with much of the concrete work.
The emphasis on non-vehicular travel paths in this redesign is about moving the community into where the world is headed, Piana said, adding that businesses and residents come to Ferndale for the walkability.
“When you design a community for all types of getting around, then your community is meeting everybody where they’re at, and for all vulnerable users,” Piana said.
The mayor said she expects there to be a third phase of the project after construction concludes: education. Relearning how to use and share the roadway with bicyclists, roller skaters, scooters and pedestrians will take a few months to adjust to.
“It’s not a road diet — it’s a lifestyle change,” Stevens said.