SOUTH HAVEN — It looks like a portion of Business Loop I-196 will be going on a diet after all.
City officials announced this week that the Michigan Department of Transportation has OK’d reducing the number of lanes on sections of Broadway and Lagrange streets from five to three lanes.
Officials expect work to begin sometime in September.
“I anticipate it will be complete by Oct. 16,” Department of Public Works Director Bill Hunter said.
When restriping of the roadway is finished from Phoenix to Aylworth streets, there will be three lanes, bicycle paths on each side and more markings and signage for pedestrian crossings.
The intent of the lane reduction is to make the roadway safer for bicyclists and for pedestrians to cross, especially South Haven High School students and other city residents who live east of the business loop.
“This project is all about trying to ensure young people have the safest route possible,” City Manager Brian Dissette has said. “Having three lanes of traffic is safer than having five lanes.”
City officials had hoped to begin the lane diet earlier this year, but had to wait for MDOT, which owns the roadway, to give final approval.
In July, officials worried MDOT would turn down the proposed diet plan. As it turns out MDOT wanted assurances that a majority of property owners along the business loop favored the idea.
“Part of the holdup was our open house,” said Hunter, referring to the open house the city held in October 2018 to gather input from property owners. Even though city officials told MDOT there were no objections expressed during the open house, state officials weren’t convinced.
“They wanted proof and minutes of the open house,” Hunter said. However, because the open house wasn’t an official government meeting, minutes weren’t kept.
The road diet along the business loop will be the second one in South Haven.
In 2008, MDOT approved a reduction of lanes on the M-43 corridor from four to three and the creation of bike paths along either side.