SOUTH HAVEN — City officials had hoped by now to reduce the number of lanes on a portion of the I-196 Business Loop that runs through town, but state officials say they need more information about the plan before granting approval.
“We’re disappointed we’re not installing it right now,” said City Manager Brian Dissette. “We respect it’s their (Michigan Department of Transportation’s) road. We have to make sure our plans are acceptable to MDOT. We’ve got additional design work tied to permitting that we’ll need to do.”
The state highway department built the business loop in 1967.
The five-lane roadway extends along LaGrange and Broadway avenues from Phoenix Street to Aylworth Avenue.
The reduction of lanes along a roadway is often referred to as a “road diet.”
South Haven is joining a number of municipalities throughout the state who want to reduce the number of lanes along state business loops in an effort to make the roadways more attractive and safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.
“The primary benefits of a road diet include enhanced safety, mobility and access for all road users and a ‘complete street’ environment to accommodate a variety of transportation modes,” said South Haven Department of Public Works Director Bill Hunter. “An ever-increasing number of transportation agencies are implementing road diets.”
Broadway and LaGrange currently have five lanes. If the road diet occurs, the lanes on that section of the business loop would be reduced to two lanes, plus a turn lane.
The space used by the outside lanes would be used for bicycle and pedestrian use. To create the new lanes, the streets would be restriped, rather than reconstructed.
South Haven city officials had hoped to have the road diet finished this spring, but don’t expect to receive MDOT’s blessing until the fall, Dissette said.