Kalamazoo eyes lane changes to slow traffic on stretch of Westnedge

Kalamazoo County

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Kalamazoo is considering removing lanes of two major city streets with the goal of slowing traffic and making it easier for pedestrians to get around.

The changes would be along Westnedge Avenue and Park Street between Dunkley Street and Crosstown Parkway in the Vine neighborhood.

“It’s a very busy street. There’s a lot of cars that are going down. The biggest problem really is just the speeding.” Jon Talbot, who owns Crow’s Nest restaurant on Westnedge and said he has seen some close calls. “There’s a spot right there where there used to be a really nice tree that got torn out over the winter from a car that had veered off the road. There’s another building over there that’s taken damage, as well.”

City officials have proposed a number of options, including adding bike lanes, reducing the number of lanes or reducing their width.

“What the research has shown us for many years is that people drive on a street based upon how comfortable they are with that street and if you have a lot of lanes and they’re wide, people feel comfortable to go fast,” Kalamazoo traffic engineer Dennis Randolph explained.

City Planner Christina Anderson noted that the project is still in its early stages and no big decisions have been made, though she said some work could start soon.

“We do have the opportunity to start this work this fall and make some immediate changes,” she said. “We’re talking about paint, signs.”

Management at South Westnedge Market is not sure the city’s long-term strategy of converting the street into a two-way street will have a positive impact. Dalawar Malik said parking spaces should be persevered with any changes.

“We need parking on the side, both sides. Being as a business owner, we want parking maybe 10-minute parking, five-minute parking, but we need, right in front of the buildings, we need parking,” Malik said.

The city is taking comment from residents through phone at 269.226.6524 or by email at hello@kalamazoocity.org. You can also attend a number of events to weigh in:

  • NACD National Night Out: Tuesday, Aug. 3, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Northside Association for Community Development, 612 N. Park St.
  • Lunchtime Live: Friday, Aug. 6, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. | Bronson Park, 200 S. Rose St.
  • VNA Art Hop: Friday, Aug. 6, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. | Vine Neighborhood Association, 806 S. Westnedge Ave.
  • Galilee Parking Lot: Tuesday, Aug. 10, 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. | Galilee Baptist Church, 1216 N Westnedge Ave.
  • Walnut & Park Cafe Patio: Thursday, Aug. 12, noon to 6 p.m. | Walnut & Park Café, 322 W. Walnut St.
  • Lunchtime Live: Friday, Aug. 13, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. | Bronson Park, 200 S. Rose St.

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