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City of Ann Arbor seeks input as it mulls opening streets to promote safe distancing

A person jogs past a sign encouraging social distancing Thursday. Exercise is one of the allowed exceptions to most stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
A person jogs past a sign encouraging social distancing Thursday. Exercise is one of the allowed exceptions to most stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus. (AP photo by Jeff Roberson))

ANN ARBOR – As the city of Ann Arbor reports a decrease in vehicular traffic by more than 50% during the COVID-19 pandemic, officials are considering implementing changes to streets so that residents can practice safe social distancing requirements.

City Council passed on May 4 a resolution to promote safe distancing outdoors, which includes street or lane re-configurations on residential streets with the public’s input.

In states across the country, cities are implementing changes to streets and public right-of-way spaces to promote safe social distancing for walking, biking, dining and other activities.

To complete the survey, click here.

Here’s a Q&A from the city of Ann Arbor on the process:

What does “street re-configuration" mean?

Changes may include temporarily closing residential streets to non-local motor vehicle traffic to provide adequate space for people to move around their neighborhood while physically distancing. Barricades and signage would be implemented at each end of the closed street. Local access for residents and essential services would be maintained, as well as residential on-street parking.

Changes may also include lane reduction or re-purposing parking spaces on non-residential streets to allow adequate space for people to move across town or conduct daily business, such as grocery shopping.

Generally, lane reductions will be temporary to accommodate times of physical distancing. Opportunity for longer term reconfiguration, depending on transportation demand and community support, may be considered.

How will public input be used?

Staff will carefully review all citizen input received through the mapping tool alongside other factors such as safety, connectivity, equity, feasibility, cost, and street jurisdiction or ownership.

Residential street closures and reconfigurations will be prepared as an action plan for implementation, as soon as possible. However, this can only take place when 1/3 of residents on the street have requested a ‘local traffic only/no thru traffic’ treatment. At that point, staff will deploy the appropriate barricades and signage.

Non-residential street closures and reconfigurations (e.g., arterial roadways) will be compiled as recommendations for City Council consideration.

Any changes to streets within the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) district will include input from Ann Arbor merchant associations.

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