MDOT makes busy Birmingham street a priority, offers to install pedestrian signals

Posted at 12:44 PM, Nov 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-07 12:44:13-05

BIRMINGHAM, Mich. (WXYZ) — An intersection that Birmingham city officials have been working to make safer is getting some attention from the state.

The Michigan Department of Transportation is preparing to install pedestrian signals and a flashing crossing sign in the area of Woodward Avenue between Forest Avenue and Brown Street. The street is busy and cars are regularly seen going close to freeway speeds.

“It’s literally a marked crosswalk across four lanes of traffic, going as you know 45 to 55 miles per hour,” Birmingham Assistant City Manager Jana Ecker said. “We’ve had two pedestrian fatalities within the last 13 months.”

The first fatality happening in August of 2020. A second happened in September of this year.

Right now, pedestrians don’t have designated flashing lights or signals that stop traffic so they can cross.

The safety concern is stopping people from visiting parts of the city.

“It is stuff that we would like to use more, but we just don’t feel safe most of the time,” Birmingham resident Chase Lee said.

MDOT says the area is a priority and is now offering to pay for and install a pedestrian countdown signal on the southbound side of Woodward.

“And then on the northbound side, they’re actually finally adding a signal that will stop traffic only when a pedestrian is there and hits the button,” Ecker said.

That design process for that signal is on the fast track, according to MDOT, but it will take time to complete.

“There’s so much going on with people exiting and entering that you are not focused on what’s in the crosswalk,” resident Mike Miller said. “It should be a no-brainer and it should be done tomorrow.”

MDOT is finalizing a spot to put a flashing pedestrian warning sign. A design for that is expected to take six weeks and once it’s complete, it will be handed over to the Oakland County Road Commission for installation.