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A main drag through downtown TC opens to two-way traffic this week

A two-year pilot project will allow westbound traffic on State Street. Officials say the goal is to make the downtown arterial safer for pedestrians. (Map courtesy of Downtown Traverse City)
Traverse City Downtown Development Authority
A two-year pilot project will allow westbound traffic on State Street. Officials say the goal is to make the downtown arterial safer for pedestrians. (Map courtesy of the Traverse City Downtown Development Authority)

A two-year pilot program will see if allowing motorists to travel both east and west makes the road safer for pedestrians.

Drivers will have to slow their roll on a few of Traverse City’s busiest downtown streets starting this week.

The Traverse City Downtown Development Authority is hoping for better pedestrian safety as new directions for busy downtown streets roll out this week.

The most important change is on State Street. The typically fast-moving one-way will soon be open to traffic in both directions.

It’s the start of a pilot program to test if the new configuration creates a safer environment for pedestrians and cyclists.

DDA Executive Director Jean Derenzy says it’s one of many steps in improving walkability.

“We need to help every street within our downtown,” she said. “So, we have a more retail and business experience on all the streets inside our (downtown) district.”

The city already tested the two-way configuration in 2020 with good feedback, according to Derenzy.

The pilot program also includes two-way configurations to Pine Street and Boardman Avenue.

At the end of the two-year pilot, the DDA and City Commission will determine if two-way traffic will remain permanent or if the pilot should be extended for further study and evaluation.

Residents can again leave comments and suggestions by emailing or calling the DDA office.

“Data collection and measuring will be determined on pedestrian volumes, bicycle volumes, the traffic speeds and traffic volumes,” Derenzy said. “We need to evaluate as we go.”

Michael Livingston covers the area around the Straits of Mackinac - including Cheboygan, Charlevoix, Emmet and Otsego counties as a Report for America corps member.