City of GR hosts meetings, explores street changes

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The city of Grand Rapids is hosting open houses this week for the community to hear and provide input about possible changes being made to the city. The first one was held Monday.

One of the discussions includes transitioning Ottawa Avenue and Ionia Avenue between Fulton Street and Michigan Street from one-way streets to two-way streets.

“There was a call out of the downtown master plan, the GR Ford plan, to look at whether the one-way streets should go two-way,” Kristin Bennett Transportation Planning and Program supervisor, said. “Now we want to look at the bigger picture, not just that one-way, two-way conversation, but ask people to respond to you know does it work for pedestrians. How’s it working for transit.”

The city says Ottawa Avenue is scheduled for repaving in 2021.

“Ottawa, Ionia and Fulton are important transportation corridors for not only downtown but the entire city and greater Grand Rapids region,” Bennet said in a statement. “That’s why we hope to get participation in this design process from all who work, live and visit downtown.”

Other discussions include:

  • Intersection needs and transit operations for the area, including added a separate bikeway on Ionia Avenue.
  • Community events, especially near Calder Plaza and Van Andel Arena.
  • Opportunities to add new elements such as flowers, benches and other décor to the corridors.

“We’re still pretty early in the process,” Bennett said. “We’ve done some analysis. It can work both ways, so now it’s a decision about what’s the investment the community wants to make.”

Josh Webb often rides his bike to work downtown and would like to see the area more accessible to non-motorized vehicles and pedestrians.

He think two-way streets could be easier but also sees advantages of one-ways, especially when people are leaving events downtown.

“I think one-ways, they help with the flow of traffic,” Webb said. “The issue I see a lot of times, I do see people turning the wrong way out of parking ramps.”

Melissa Shields, a manager of the Old World Olive Company on Ottawa Avenue, is hopeful any changes would make things easier for customers.

“Anything that creates a quicker path to our doorstep and the other businesses downtown, particularly along the Monroe Center Corridor is something we would welcome,” Shields said.

Information for open houses Tuesday are below:

  • Tuesday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Ryerson Auditorium at the Grand Rapids Public Library, located at 111 Library Street NE.
  • Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., located at 29 Pearl Street NW.

The city will share the designs and recommendations to the community Thursday at 5 p.m. at City Hall, located on 300 Monroe Ave. NW, in the ninth-floor commission chambers. They say the meeting should last about two hours.

If you cannot attend the meetings, residents can dial 311 or 616.456.3000 to submit feedback. You may also share ideas and priorities through an online survey in English or Spanish.

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