The City of Howell is hoping the Michigan Department of Transportation gives it thumbs up to put a study into motion that could rein in traffic on Grand River Avenue through parts of its historic downtown. You can read more about it by clicking here for the news story from WHMI.
I am crossing my fingers for swift approval from the state because this plan appears to be great news.
For years now, the speed with which traffic moves through downtown Howell has been cited by consultant after consultant as a drawback. Speed makes it difficult for downtown businesses to capture the attention of drivers, and just try to cross Grand River Avenue on foot, or exit your parallel-parked vehicle without holding your breath and you’ll see the challenge.
And then there is always the perennial complaint that there just isn’t enough parking.
Under the plan, the three lanes from Barnard Street to State Street in front of the Livingston County Courthouse complex, as well as the block between Center and Chestnut streets, would be narrowed, and the current parallel parking spots in the two areas would be replaced with back-in angle spots.
The rest of Grand River Avenue — including the main intersection with Michigan Avenue — would remain the same.
Given the addition of new restaurants and stores in downtown Howell, as well as the popularity of the Howell Carnegie District Library and Howell’s Sunday Farmers’ Market, slowing traffic and providing more parking would be a win-win for us all. And those unfamiliar with back-in angle parking will be happy to learn that it is a safer style of parking since drivers exit forward, rather than having to back out of spots.
The success of Main Street in downtown Brighton is due in part to the road being three lanes throughout. Traffic moves more slowly, and pedestrians rule, making for a more welcoming and intimate area.
If Howell gets the nod from the Michigan Department of Transportation, it will mark Grand River Avenue with temporary posts, tape and paint to reflect the new layout.
A few months ago I wrote that Howell ought to close a stretch of Grand River Avenue in its downtown — even if occasionally — to create a festival street.
While the city’s plan doesn’t include that, just narrowing Grand River Avenue and providing more parking will go a long way to making Howell’s downtown even cooler than it already is.