GR rolls out new Michigan Street crossing signal

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A new signal will be running on Michigan Street NE in Grand Rapids, as the city looks to ease traffic and parking congestion along its bustling Medical Mile.

Grand Rapids officials say the city’s first pedestrian hybrid beacon between Fuller and Plymouth avenues will go into service Wednesday.

The new signal remains dark until a pedestrian pushes the call button on either side of Michigan Street. Once activated, the signal goes through the following cycle for drivers:

  • Flashing yellow light to warn drivers and bicyclists
  • Solid yellow light to urge drivers and bicyclists to use caution
  • Solid red light indicating drivers and bicyclists should stop
  • Flashing red light meaning drivers and bicyclists can begin moving if the crosswalk is clear

>>PDF: Pedestrian signal lights explained

Pedestrians should treat the signal like a normal crossing light, waiting for the white “WALK” light to appear before they cross. The signal also features a countdown so pedestrians know how long they have before they must be safely on one side of the street.

Mobile GR Director Josh Naramore says drivers shouldn’t expect a significant change in their travel time.

“For most of the people who drive this corridor, they will not experience huge amounts of delay because there is no traffic signal that exists between Plymouth and Fuller,” he explained.

Grand Rapids chose to install the new signal at Michigan Street near Baynton Avenue because of The Rapid’s new Route 19, which offers free rides along the busy Medical Mile corridor. The Rapid and Spectrum Health agreed to roll out Route 19 as part of a three-year pilot program aimed at easing traffic and parking congestion near the hospitals.

The city says since then, foot traffic has increased from about 50 people each day to 1,000 pedestrians.

“We’re a changing, growing city. So this helps safety for everyone, for all users, especially our most vulnerable users,” said Naramore.

The beacon cost Grand Rapids $150,000. The city says it doesn’t have any immediate plans to install more of the signals, but it is working on similar pedestrian crossings.  

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