Kalamazoo wants to convert streets to two-way

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — If you’ve driven through downtown Kalamazoo, perhaps you’ve been turned around by all the one-way streets. City leaders are working on a plan to turn those one-ways into two-way streets.

Navigating downtown Kalamazoo may become a little easier if the city’s plan becomes a reality.

Kathy Beebe’s downtown Kalamazoo coffee shop Caffe Casa has been open for 25 years.

“It’s remarkable how different the Kalamazoo Mall is now from that time,” she said.

Beebe still remembers when she made the move to Kalamazoo.

“I found the one-way streets incredibly confusing, at first,” she said.

Beebe says she’s not alone.

“Kalamazoo is trying really hard to attract new people,” she said. “And when people are coming into a downtown core that’s just loaded with one-way streets, if you miss your street and you end up going a little too far and having to go so much further to actually do a turnaround.”

Beebe would like Kalamazoo to convert the one-way streets to two-way streets to help her business and to make downtown safer.

Kalamazoo City Manager Jim Ritsema agrees the change would be good for downtown. He says the Michigan Department of Transportation may transfer control of the one-way streets to Kalamazoo. After that, it would take an undetermined amount of time and money to make the changes happen.

“And in doing so, we’ll be able to capture more of the spending downtown versus people going other places in the area,” he said.

Ritzema says Kalamazoo and Michigan avenues through downtown would go from one-way to two-way streets. The same is true for Westnedge and Park avenues.

“Before the one-way streets, there were two-way streets on Michigan Avenue; even the Kalamazoo Mall was a two-way street,” Beebe said. “And I see returning it to that as a way of restoring our heritage in some ways.”

Ritsema says there’s no timeline for when the changes may be made, but he said MDOT appears to be willing to transfer control of the streets to the city as soon as 2018.

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