A troubling intersection

Mark Brooky • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:49 PM

Laura of Grand Haven asked a related question: “Why does the new curb at Washington and Seventh stick so far out in the road? When driving south on Seventh, you actually have to drive out around the curb. You can already see tire marks on it. What is the logic?”


This was part of the $1 million reconstruction of Washington Avenue and the intersection with Seventh Street in the Centertown district.

“Now that it is constructed, the city is taking another look at this corner from both pedestrian and vehicular traffic perspectives,” said Julie Beaton, the city’s project manager who oversaw the work. “The internal question at the city is if there is an option to modify the corner to widen the driving lane without compromising pedestrian safety. We are looking primarily at the space where the decorative feature was eliminated. The evaluation isn’t complete, so I don’t have further information to share at this time.”

But Beaton did share an aerial photo that shows the Seventh and Washington intersection prior to it being redone. The little yellow arrow points to the southwest corner, which is the one readers referenced in their Mailbag inquiries.

Beaton also shared the following reasons the curb and driving lanes have changed:

(1) Bringing the street crossing up to current MDOT standards for a landing, ramps and the minimum distances between detectable plates (tactile plates) and a RR rail. Attached are MDOT drawings (download the Related Files PDF below) that show how landings, ramps and detectable plates are to be constructed. If you scroll through, you’ll see examples of various types of crossings, including adjacent to RR tracks. Replacing older-style raised curbs with ramps is often referred to making the crossings compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or making them “barrier free.” The city also updates the crossings during projects that are more straight-forward, such as road resurfacing projects.

(2) Accommodating the new traffic light bases, poles, arms and light signals plus countdown pedestrian crossing signals. If you take a walk, you can see where the new equipment will be installed as the bases are covered with construction barrels and the concrete has not been poured in the surrounding squares. The old equipment will be removed, but the new items (obstructions) must be accounted for in the corner “real estate.”

(3) Accommodating a design feature that was eliminated from the project scope when cost-redoing measures had to be implemented.

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