A comprehensive analysis of the City of Kalamazoo's existing transportation facilities was conducted to evaluate the adequacy of these facilities to accommodate future mobility needs of the community. Requisite data were acquired from the Kalamazoo Area Transportation Study (KATS), the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the City of Kalamazoo Economic Development and Planning Division, Transportation Division (Metro Transit), and Engineering Division. The following sections describe the analysis, observations and recommendations.


1. Functional Classification

 Roadways in any street system are classified based on the function they serve. All roadways fall under one of three categories: arterials, collectors or local streets. The primary purpose of "arterials" is to carry traffic. "Collectors" equally serve to carry traffic and to provide access to abutting properties. "Local" streets primarily provide access to abutting properties. These three primary functional classifications may be further classified for design purposes.

The roadways in the City of Kalamazoo street system have all been officially classified (by KATS, MDOT and Federal Highway Administration) as follows (Figure VII-1):

 a. Major (or Principal) Arterials

 This functional class of street serves the major portion of through-traffic entering and leaving the urban area and is designed to carry the highest traffic volumes. In addition, it also serves intra-area traffic (such as between the CBD and outlying residential areas) between major inner-city communities or suburban centers. Included in this class are fully controlled access facilities and partially controlled access facilities. Depending upon the degree of access control and grade separation, major arterials are further classified into three subclasses:

  • interstates - being fully grade-separated and having full access control.
  • expressways and non-interstate freeways - primarily grade-separated with full access control, but occasional at-grade intersections with partial access control
  • other major (principal) arterials - primarily at-grade intersections, where the manner of access may be controlled

Figure VII-1Roadway Classification

b. Minor Arterials

This functional class serves trips of moderate length and offers a lower level of mobility than major arterials. This class interconnects with, and augments major arterials, distributes traffic to smaller areas, and contains streets that place some emphasis on land access. These are characterized by moderate to heavy traffic volumes.

c. Collector Streets

These streets serve as a link between local streets and the arterial system. Collectors provide both access and traffic circulation within residential, commercial, and industrial areas. Moderate to low traffic volumes are characteristic of these streets.

d. Local Streets

These are composed of all lower order facilities that essentially serve as a conduit between abutting properties and higher order streets. Local streets provide the lowest level of mobility and generally exhibit the lowest traffic volumes. ("Local" streets are the roadways not otherwise designated in Figure VII-1.)

2. Roadway Mileage and Maintenance

As of June 30, 1996, there are 265.68 miles of roadway within the City of Kalamazoo maintained by the City of Kalamazoo. This includes 14.24 miles of State arterials that are maintained under contract by the City (Business 94, Business 131 and M-43), 85.73 miles of City-maintained arterials and collectors, and 165.71 miles of City-maintained local streets. The State has maintenance responsibility for Interstate (I), United States (US) and Michigan (M) designated routes: I-94, Business I-94, US 131, Business US 131 and M-43 through the City of Kalamazoo. On the corporate boundaries of the City, the City may share responsibility with other jurisdictions for roadway maintenance. For example, the City of Kalamazoo and Kalamazoo County Commission maintain different sections of Drake Road.

3. Physical and Operational Characteristics

The physical and operational characteristics (roadway geometrics) of the "thoroughfare" street system are given in Table VII-1. The year 2015 volumes and volume-to-capacity ratios are based on the KATS 2015 Long-Range Transportation Plan (1995) that assumes certain funded roadway improvements will be completed. (If the existing and future roadway capacity are different, a roadway improvement has been assumed.)

a. Roadway Width and Laneage

 Lane widths have a great influence on the roadway capacity, safety and comfort of driving. Lane widths of eleven to thirteen feet are standard. Higher vehicle speeds, volumes and truck traffic make wider lanes desirable. Lane widths narrower than 11 feet are generally considered less than desirable based on capacity and safety considerations. Segments of East Main Street (between Charles and Charlotte, 10.5 ft), Park Street (between Walnut and Cedar - 10 ft) and Mt. Oliviet (between Briarwood and Glenhaven - 10.5 ft) all have less-than-desirable lane widths.

 The number of traffic lanes is another major determinant of roadway capacity, particularly at roadway intersections. Most roads in the City seem to have adequate number of lanes to handle the existing traffic. However, certain improvements like the provision of separate turn lanes at Drake Road and KL Avenue and removal of parking lanes on Whites Road and Portage Road could help to reduce conflicts between through and turning movements. This will also result in greater operating speeds and better movement of traffic.

b. Traffic Signals

 Traffic Signals at intersections provide for orderly movement of traffic by alternately assigning right-of-way to the various traffic movements. Installation standards (such as the number, arrangement, and size of signal lenses, number and location of signal faces, and height and transverse location of signals, supports, and controllers) are described in the Michigan Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MMUTCD). There are a total of 140 signals comprising traffic signals, flashing beacons and fire station signals in the City of Kalamazoo.

 Of these, 132 are signalized intersections, 6 are flashing beacons and 2 are fire station signals (Figure VII-2). There are 22 signalized intersections in the downtown area, most of which currently operate at a level-of-service (LOS) of C or better during the peak periods. The exceptions are the following three signalized intersections, which experience a LOS of E or F in the evening peak period:

  • Park Street at Kalamazoo Avenue
  • Park Street at South Street
  • Park Street at Michigan Avenue

 In order to achieve a better operational LOS (D or better) at these intersections, the recommendations as outlined in the City of Kalamazoo Downtown Plan (May 1996) are to:

  • convert Lovell and South Streets to two-way traffic flow;
  • to widen Park Street by adding a northbound through lane.

 c. Speed Zones

 The basic speed rule is that no person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under existing conditions, considering actual and potential hazards. Speed limits are generally based upon actual measurements of speed characteristics whereby the posted speed is observed for 85 percent of the drivers. Special zones are established where high pedestrian crossings occur and pedestrian-vehicular conflicts are of concern, such as schools or hospitals. In the State of Michigan, a bill was passed in March 1978 setting a prima facie school speed limit of 25 miles per hour, to be in effect at least 30 minutes before the beginning, and after the completion of a regularly scheduled school session.

 The posted speed limits on the City thoroughfare network are as shown in Table VII-1.

d. Traffic Volume

 Traffic volumes can be used for establishing traffic growth trends, determining annual travel as economic justification for proposed expenditures, computing accident rates, measuring current travel demand and evaluating the adequacy of the existing system to meet traffic needs. The existing (1990) and projected (2015) volumes on the City's road network are shown in Figure VII­3. Table VII-2 shows the traffic volumes for the last 5 years.

4. Existing Rights-of-Way

 It can be seen from Table VII-1 that most of the major streets in the City of Kalamazoo have 66 feet of right-of-way width. Accordingly, the typical thoroughfare has 39 to 42 feet of pavement for four lanes. Exceptions to this typical 66-foot width are sections of Cork Street (80 feet), Crosstown Parkway (100 feet), Drake Road (66-166 feet), Kalamazoo Avenue (86 feet), Parkview Avenue (166 feet) and Rose Street (100 feet).

 In general, the right-of-ways of arterial streets may be termed as inadequate because sufficient right-of-way does not exist to add separate left-turn lanes to the basic four-lane pavement width. While it is physically possible to construct four and five lanes of pavement within a 66-foot right-of-way, little space is left for walkways, bikeways, landscaping and utilities. Sidewalks with little or no separation from the edge of the pavement along thoroughfares represents a traffic hazard. Further, little room is available for any desirable form of tree installations, landscape buffering, or other forms of environmental protection/street beautification. Inadequate right-of-way also results in minimal building setbacks. This contributes to hazardous traffic movements when entering or leaving a premise, especially in non-residential areas.

 Figure VII-3 existing and projected volumes

 Sixty-six foot right-of-ways are also typical of most collector and local streets in residential areas. The adequate right-of-ways in residential areas is in sharp contrast to the deficiencies along arterial routes because two movement lanes are adequate to carry traffic on most collector and local streets and the other two lanes may be used for parking or separate left-turn lanes at major intersections. This is a critical factor in residential areas where children play and livability is very important. Substandard widths in residential areas also increase the exposure to traffic noise. The section of Fulford between Cork and Cambridge is especially inadequate, with a width of 50 feet.

 5. Accidents

 The number of accidents on roadway segments and at intersections is a commonly used measure for determining the adequacy of an existing street system. High accident rates are an indicator of the need for improvements. During the period between January 1993 and February 1995, there were a total of 692 accidents (about 26 a month or 4 per week) in the downtown area itself. The majority of these occurred either on Kalamazoo or Michigan Avenues with the Kalamazoo Avenue/Park Street intersection recording the highest (105).

 6. Functional Adequacy

a. Definition of Adequacy

 Functional adequacy refers to the capability of a roadway to accommodate traffic flow. Volume-to-capacity (v/c) ratio is a standard measure for determining functional adequacy. Table VII-1 shows the existing (1995) as well as future (2015) v/c ratios for the various roadway segments. A v/c ratio in the range of 0.90 to 0.99 indicates that the facility is "approaching capacity" and needed improvements should be looked into in the immediate future. A v/c ratio between 1.00 and 1.20 indicates that the facility is operating "at-capacity", has little capability of accommodating future traffic growth and is highly congested during the peak hours. A ratio over 1.20 indicates that the facility is operating "over capacity" and is likely to break down during the peak hours.

b. Existing Deficiencies

 From Table VII-1, the following thoroughfare segments are "approaching" capacity or operating "at-capacity" based on existing traffic volumes and roadway geometrics (KATS improvement project numbers where appropriate):

  • Burdick Street from Lovell Street to Crosstown Parkway (KATS #13),
  • Drake Road from Grand Prairie Road to Canterbury Avenue (KATS #17),
  • Drake Road from Stadium Drive to Parkview Avenue (KATS #20),
  • Gull Road from Riverview Drive to East City Limits (KATS #3),
  • Kilgore Road from Oakland Drive to Westnedge Avenue (KATS #11),
  • Kilgore Road from Lovers Lane to Kilgore Bypass (KATS # 34)
  • Lovell Street between Rose Street and the Kalamazoo Mall/Burdick Street (with two moving lanes and two parking lanes),
  • Oakland Drive from Howard Street to Whites Road (with two moving lanes and center left-turn lane),
  • Oakland Drive from Whites Road to Kilgore Road (KATS #11 and #14),
  • Parkview Avenue from Drake Road to Oakland Drive (KATS #2 and #36), and
  • Portage Road from Vine Street to Washington Avenue (KATS #22),
  • Sprinkle Road from the I-94 Business Loop to Cork Street (KATS #27 and #28),
  • Stockbridge Avenue between Portage Road and Mills Street,
  • Westnedge Avenue from Buchanan Avenue to Kilgore Road (KATS #7), and
  • Whites Road from Oakland Drive to Westnedge Avenue (KATS #21),

 Of those thoroughfare segments listed above, those with KATS project numbers have been programmed improvements by the year 2015

 c. Future Deficiencies

 Based on projected traffic growth in the year 2015, some additional thoroughfare segments will be "approaching" capacity or operating "at-capacity" based on existing traffic volumes and roadway geometrics:

  • Kalamazoo Avenue between Pitcher Street and King Highway
  • Howard Street between West Michigan Street and Stadium Drive, Stadium Drive and Waite Avenue and Westnedge Avenue and Park Street
  • Lovers Lane between Cork Street and Kilgore Road
  • West Main Street between North Berkley Street and Monroe
  • Portage Road between Washington Avenue and Bryant Street and from Miller Road to Lovers Lane
  • Stockbridge Avenue between Portage Road and Mills Street
  • Vine Street between Rosa Parks and Burdick Street, Sheldon Street and Miles Avenue and Westnedge Avenue

 These thoroughfare segments have not been identified project need by KATS or the City; thus, these needs to not appear in the funded or unfunded project category of KATS.

7. Major Roadway Improvements

 Major roadway improvements have been identified on the basis of year 2015 traffic volumes and the available funding for these improvements have been examined, as part of the 2015 Long Range Transportation Plan, 1995.

 The funded (monies available) expansion projects to year 2015 include (see Figure VII-4)

  • Burdick Street from Lovell Street to Crosstown Parkway - widening to 4 lanes with curb and gutter (KATS Project #13).
  • Burdick Street/John Street Connector - new four-lane roadway from Burdick Street at Vine Street to John Street at Walnut Street (KATS Project #18).
  • Drake Road from Grand Prairie Road to Canterbury Avenue - widening to four lanes (KATS Project #17).
  • Drake Road from Parkview Avenue to Stadium Drive - widening to 4 lanes (KATS Project #20).
  • Drake Road from Stadium Drive to KL Avenue - reconstruction of existing section with provision of turn lanes at KL Avenue.
  • Gull Road from Riverview Drive to G Avenue - widen to four and five lanes (KATS Project #3).
  • Kilgore Road from Oakland Drive to Westnedge Avenue - widening to 3 lanes with curb and gutter (KATS Project #11).
  • Kilgore Road from Lovers Lane to Kilgore Bypass - widen to four lanes (KATS Project #34).
  • Oakland Street from Parkview Avenue to Kilgore Road - widening to 3 lanes (KATS Projects #11 and #14).
  • Parkview Avenue - widening to 3 lanes from Oakland Drive to Tamsin Avenue (KATS Project #2) and upgrade to 4 lanes from Tamsin Avenue to Drake Road (KATS Project #36).
  • Portage Road from Washington Avenue to Vine Street - removal of parking and re-striping of pavement for facilitating 5-lane traffic (KATS Project #22).
  • Sprinkle Road from I-94 business loop to Cork Street - widen to six lanes (KATS Projects #27 and #28).
  • Westnedge Avenue from Pratt Road to Buchanan Avenue - widening to 5 lanes (KATS Project #7).
  • Whites Road from Westnedge Avenue to Bronson Boulevard - removal of parking and re-striping of pavement for facilitating 4-lane traffic (KATS Project #21).
  • Whites Road from Bronson Boulevard to Oakland Drive - reconstruction of existing 4-lane section (KATS Project #21).

 Figure VII-4 funded expansion projects to year 2015

 The non-funded (monies lacking) expansion projects to year 2015 include:

  • Burdick Street/Lovers Lane Connector - construction of new 4- and 5-lane road connecting Burdick Street and Lovers Lane near Kilgore Road.
  • Michigan Avenue from Drake Road to Marion Avenue - widening to 5 lanes.
  • Ransom Street from Westnedge Avenue to Pitcher Street - widening to 4 lanes.

 8. Thoroughfare Design Standards

 To evolve a good thoroughfare needs plan, the following criteria standards should be considered:

  • The physical roadway characteristics necessary to support anticipated traffic volumes and vehicular maneuvers.
  • The capacity standards of different street types in terms of traffic-carrying ability.

 Table VII-3, Street Classification Criteria and Cross-section Standards, indicates the basic purpose and desirable features of the several street types which have been previously described.

TABLE VII-3Street Classification Criteria and Cross-Section Standards

 9. Major Street Corridors

 An assessment of the land use characteristics along major street corridors and roadway characteristics within the community was made. This will help in formulating plans for the development and redevelopment of land along major streets so as to ensure effective traffic mobility while benefitting land use activities along the corridor.

 The major thoroughfare corridors within the City of Kalamazoo can be viewed as bisecting the community. The main corridors are Drake Road, Howard Street, Oakland Drive, Westnedge Avenue, Burdick Street, Portage Road and Sprinkle Road running north-south and Paterson Street, Michigan Avenue, Main Street, Lovell Street, Parkview Avenue/Whites Road/Cork Street and Kilgore Road running east-west. These corridors pass through various land uses, and a range of conditions. These streets are at the same time static and dynamic i.e., a street can be examined either for problems at any one location or along an entire street segment. Sometimes, they also serve as a boundary between two diverse land uses.

 The major thoroughfare corridors can be grouped into three major categories:

 a) Residential Conservation Corridors

 b) Capacity Preservation Corridors

 c) Capacity Expansion Corridors

 Residential Corridors are streets that are predominantly residential in character and are characterized by land use consistency and relatively low levels of activity/intensity. The quality of streets in this category should be conserved and any improvements should complement the adjoining residential area by landscaping or other appurtenances (street signs, lighting etc.). Outlying sections of Ravine Road, Alamo Avenue, Parkview Avenue, Oakland Drive, South Westnedge, South Burdick, Kilgore Road, East Cork Street, Miller Road, Lake Street, Gull Street, Mt. Oliviet Road, Riverview Drive, North Pitcher Street and Douglas Avenue may fall under this category.

 Capacity Preservation Corridors are streets that pass through areas of little or no non-residential development. Streets in this category have significant potential for redevelopment and could potentially contribute toward a well-coordinated transportation system. The residential portions of South Westnedge Avenue might fall in this category.

 Capacity Expansion Corridors are streets which are bounded primarily by commercial and industrial uses. Streets in this category reflect conditions of intensive activity with subsequent traffic congestion and confusion. These corridors may be in need of multiple corrective actions such as access control, landscaping, elimination of parking and/or existing curb openings, development of marginal access streets, signage control, pedestrian improvements etc. Many of the roadways listed under Section 7 above (Major Roadway Improvements) may fall under this category.

 10. Major Commercial/Truck Routes

 Major Commercial access routes are available on all the major thoroughfares (functional classi-fication of collector or arterial). These provide a network to access all major retail, industrial, and commercial locations in the urban area. M-43, M-89, US-131 and I-94 serve as the major commercial routes into the balance of Kalamazoo County and to other metropolitan areas.

 Several heavy trucking firms are located in the urban area. Truck facilities on the east side of the urban area, near Sprinkle Road include Alvan, NK, Graff and TNT. Other truck facilities including a Federal Express terminal facility located north of I-94. Most of these companies serve as delivery destinations for the larger surface roadway carriers.

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