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May 21, 2001 - Image 8

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2001-05-21

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

8 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, May 21, 2001
Salvaging the streets
downtown, area roads renewed AND NISA JOORABCHI

The face of Ann Arbor is changing.
City projects like the Capital Improve-
ments Plan, the Annual Resurfacing Pro-
ject, the Downtown Resurfacing Project
and the State Street renovation are all
taking place this summer.
"Twenty years ago, there were a lot of
retail shops, now there are a lot of coffee
shops. Ten years from now there will be a
lot of entertainment shops, so that means
focusing on lights" said Susan Pollack,
executive director of the Downtown
Development Authority, the committee in
charge of the State Street project. "Ten
years from now there will be these beauti-
ful trees like you see on Main Street and
we're hoping it'll encourage people to have
sidewalk coffee shops."
The DDA is also in charge of building
several new parking structures, such as the
one on South Forest Avenue and Willard
Street, which should open in July.
The projects could mean more hassles
for students, but project managers are
hoping they'll attract even more people
to the downtown and campus areas in the
The State Street renovation project is
the last to start but the most anticipated.
The project, which will widen sidewalks
and add trees and streetlights to the


downtown area, also includes a plan to
turn the one-way section of State Street
between East William and Liberty streets
into a two-way street.
Pollay said she hopes the project would
improve the State Street area to the stan-
dards of the Main Street downtown area.
"As you look around State Street and
then you walk down to Main Street, there
is a huge difference" Pollay said. "It's real-
ly about making it feel comfortable to
walk around ... it gives you a sense of
place, you want to spend time there. The
area is looking a little bit old."
The project's beginning date hasn't been
determined yet, but Pollay said she expects
the sidewalk construction to begin in Sep-
tember and the road construction to begin
next year.
Beginning the construction in the fall
will mean more pedestrians will be walk-
ing around, and that could cause some
problems, but Pollay said the DDA will try
to accommodate pedestrians by having
students walk on the other side of the
street, or making temporary walking areas
in the street.
"State Street is a very, very high pedes-
trian area. We need to make sure to
accommodate pedestrians and make sure
it's still possible to get in the shops you
want to get
in and get
from point
A to point
B," she said.
the side-
w a l k s
means the
lanes in the
str eets
won't be as
sidem tisd
to ntwo-way
mueans traf-
'ic will only
have one

lane which could lead to more clogged
streets. The advantage is there will be a
more direct route to get to South Cam-
"It seems like it would be a good idea'
said LSA junior Ryan Mason. "I don't
know why they are doing it the way itsis
now. I always have to find alternative
Although area businesses say they are
aware that construction will lead to a
temporary slowdown, most agree that it
will strengthen the State Street area and
hopefully lead to more commerce. "This
is not road construction, this is a huge five
million dollar project," said Tom Hay-
wood, executive director of the State Street
Area Association. "We all understand that
we're going to lose some business."
"From the business standpoint, you take
the greater good. The wider sidewalks
allow for larger trees, which add to
ambiance, the cleanliness of the area
improves," he added. "A lot of the project
depends on how the whole thing is
managed, but the overall good is
incalculable. It's going to be a
much better place for everyone
who works here."
Although the plan, designed by
the Pollack Design Agency fol-
lowing an extensive study of the
area and meetings between city
officials and University faculty
and students, tries to help pedes-
trians, it leaves cyclists on the
"Making the pedestrians feel
more important in that area has sort of
been a principle that we've been trying to
use," said Christie Dunbar, a project
coordinator at Pollack Design.
Bicycling lanes, which were originally
asked to be added to the plan, were left out
to leave more room for cars. While some
area cyclists are upset, Woody Holman,
president of the Ann Arbor Chamber of
Commerce, said he believes the paths
wouldn't have served their purpose.

"I do a lot of biking around Ann Arbor
and I think in an area like that, where
there is a lot of traffic and that type of
thing, I'm not sure that I think bicycling
paths are practical" he said.
Holman added that although he believed
the plan will help the downtown area,
additional steps need to be taken in order
for State Street to measure up to its poten-
tial, including adding a greater variety of
merchants to the area.
"I think there is a lot more that needs
be done in terms of an active effort t
attract the kinds of husinesses that von


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