The Revision Division Project
Division Avenue running through downtown Grand Rapids has real potential to become a great urban corridor. Numerous development projects – from major investments such as Van Andel Institute to smaller scale projects such as the 101 South Division Lofts – have dramatically transformed the character of the corridor. The question now is whether Division Avenue itself can be redesigned in a way that better compliments the investment and accelerates the revitalization.
This pilot project will explore the potential of, and community interest in, re-imaging Division Avenue as a more attractive and high–functioning urban roadway. Specifically, the project will temporarily convert Division Avenue from the current 5– and 4– lane road to a 3–lane road from Michigan Street to Wealthy Street. The project also will evaluate how the changes affect traffic patterns and the urban environment. The study involves simply repainting travel lanes. No physical changes to the street will be made. The project partners will work closely with property owners, businesses, the Rapid and other stakeholders during the pilot project.
02.27.13 – Public Meeting to Discuss Revision Division Study
The project partners will report interim findings, solicit feedback, and discuss next steps. The meeting will occur Friday, March 8, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Ferris State University’s campus in downtown Grand Rapids. Please join the conversation in room 217 of the Historic Federal Building located at 17 Pearl Street NW.
01.13.13 – Renovation of JA Building Begins
The long-vacant building will soon house an architectural design firm with up to 40 workers and potentially new retail and/or a restaurant at the corner of Fulton and Division. WOOD TV 8's Amanda Jarrett reports the story.
10.25.12 – Division Avenue Bus Rapid Transit Construction Begins April 2013
The Rapid transit agency sealed the deal on Division Avenue BRT with the Federal Transit Administration, the final step toward funding and ultimately building the rapid transit line. The new service, which will connect to Division at Wealthy Street, the southern boundary of the road diet pilot, already is stimulating new development interest and activity.
09.13.12 – Three New Apartment Buildings Coming to Division Avenue Corridor
The project will add 131 new apartments – and many new residents – at and near the corner of Division and Cherry. MLive's Jim Harger reports the story.
09.10.12 – Kendall Building Set for Renovation, New Tenants
The redevelopment project will add 12 market-rate apartments, new offices, and ground floor retail at the corner of Division and Fulton, MLive's Jim Harger reports.
06.04.12 – Revision Division Project Timeline Extended
The Revision Division pilot project continues to perform as anticipated although the timeline has been adjusted to ensure good data collection. The project partners' original intent was to undertake a year-long study and report findings and recommendations in June 2012. That timeline has been extended due to ongoing street construction in the area as well as the fact that schools are now out of session.
Extending the project schedule to fall 2012 will allow the project partners to gather more accurate traffic counts on Division Avenue and adjacent streets once traffic patterns "normalize." Crash data before and after the road conversion also is being collected to help the project partners understand how crash patterns have changed. A public presentation of findings now is tentatively planned for late fall 2012.
04.28.12 – New UPrep School Secures Major Investment
The building rising along Division Avenue just south of Wealthy is designed as a model learning environment for students in the 21st century, according to the UPrep Board chair. The new facility also exemplifies the changing character of the corridor. MLive's Monica Scott reports the story.
01.09.12 – A Six-Month Progress Report
The conversion of Division Avenue from 5- and 4-lanes to a 3-lane roadway through downtown Grand Rapids has had a marginal effect on travel times and traffic speeds, according to a six month progress report on the Revision Division pilot study. The report is based on travel data gathered before and after the June 2011 road conversion, which included restriping lanes, optimizing traffic signals and other changes.
"The changes so far appear to be working," said Jay Fowler, executive director of the Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority, a partner in the project. "These findings are consistent with our expectation that the reconfigured roadway would help streamline traffic flow, lower vehicle speeds and ultimately improve the overall performance of the roadway for cars, bicycles and pedestrians. We will continue to observe, measure and report how this project changes the urban environment."
To conclude the one-year pilot project, a second progress report will be issued in spring 2012 detailing before/after changes in traffic counts, travel patterns and crash data.
11.28.2011 – Development proposal aims to transform parking lot, add 100 apartments
A proposed new 8-story mixed use building at the corner of Division and Cherry illustrates the type of compact, higher-density, urban infill development that is changing the physical character and travel patterns in the corridor. The Grand Rapids Press' Chris Knape reports the story.
09.16.2011 – Road Diets: Moving Beyond the Automobile
A road diet is one of the most cost effective ways to redesign streets so they operate more efficiently, according to San Francisco Transportation Engineer Mike Sallaberry, who is featured in this informational video recently produced by Streetfilms.
07.06.11 – Optimizing the Pedestrian Experience
Identifying ways to make Division Avenue safer, more accessible and comfortable for pedestrians is one priority of the Revision Division pilot project. To realize that pursuit, the one-year study includes several pedestrian-friendly alterations.
The reduction from 5- and 4-lanes to a 3-lane cross section results in fewer vehicle travel lanes that pedestrians must cross.
The repainted lane configuration also is expected to encourage slower and more consistent vehicle speeds.
What's more, the addition of more than 30 on-street parking spaces moves traffic away from the curb and utilizes parked cars as a buffer between pedestrians and automobile travel lanes. Another change is the new crosswalk at the Bartlett Street intersection. By reducing the distance between crosswalks in the corridor, the hope is to achieve safer crossings and expanded access to adjacent businesses and residences on either side of the street.
We believe these changes will lead to a safer and more comfortable experience for all travelers in the corridor.
Please leave a comment and tell us how it's working for you? We're listening.
06.24.2011 – Revision Division Part Two
Work will resume on the Revision Division project area Saturday morning converting the remaining section between Fulton St. and the I-96 overpass. Traffic will be maintained throughout the process. This completes the new striping and marks the beginning of the year-long study to evaluate how the changes affect traffic patterns and the urban environment.
Travelers are encouraged to pay close attention to road markings, traffic signals, walk signals and street signs. Throughout the study period, lane modifications, signals and signs may be adjusted as necessary to address safety or congestion issues for motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists and transit users of the street.
06.21.2011 – Bus stops changed to compliment Revision Division
The Rapid, the regional transit authority, recently moved a few stops to better harmonize bus traffic and service with the new turn lanes, bike sharrows and other elements of the Revision Division study. The relocations affect Routes 1, 2, 6 and 9 in the downtown corridor. Learn more at ridetherapid.org/news.
06.20.2011 – Revision Division is underway
Ongoing reinvestment and revitalization in the Division Avenue corridor is motivating the effort to explore new ways of making the street more safe and efficient for pedestrians, bicycles and cars, reports WOOD TV 8Ős Joe LaFurgey.See the video here
06.17.2011 – Goal is to make Division a more enjoyable experience
City Planning Director Suzanne Schulz talks with WOOD TV 8 reporter Joe LaFurgey about the goals of the Revision Division study. See the video here.
06.17.2011 – Division Avenue will be different Monday morning
This weekend, weather permitting, workers will start painting new travel lanes on Division Avenue through downtown Grand Rapids. The new striping will be installed in conjunction with a year-long study to evaluate how the changes affect traffic patterns and the urban environment.
Workers this Saturday will repaint the section of Division Avenue from Wealthy Street to Oakes Street. Work will resume on June 25, weather permitting, to repaint the section from Oakes Street to Michigan Street. The intent is to maintain traffic flow during this work.
All travelers are encouraged to pay close attention to road markings, traffic signals, walk signals and street signs. Throughout the study period, lane modifications, signals and signs may be adjusted as necessary to address safety or congestion issues for motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists and transit users of the street.
06.17.2011 – Road Diet Defined
Division Avenue is undergoing a process known as a road diet. A road diet is the narrowing or elimination of travel lanes on a roadway allowing for the creation or enhancement of pedestrian and bicycle facilities. Other benefits can include increased motor vehicle safety, and improved traffic flow. For more information on road diets and the road dieting process, check out,
"Road Diet's: Fixing the Big Roads," (PDF 791kb) by nationally renowned transportation professionals Dan Burden and Peter Lagerwey.
06.07.2011 – Revision Division on The Tony Gates Show
GR DDA Director Jay Fowler, Traffic Safety Manager Chris Zull and property owner Craig Vander Lende talked about the Division Avenue road diet experiment on WJRW radio. Learn More
05.26.2011 – Feedback from the May 25 Public Meetings
Nearly 100 people participated in yesterday's public dialogue sessions. Sixty-seven participants completed surveys, which revealed overwhelming support for reimagining Division Avenue.
05.25.2011 – 'Road diet' plan gets warm reception, bicyclists raise questions
The goals of the project include slowing traffic, improving safety, encouraging pedestrian traffic and more convenient parking for stores south of Fulton Street writes Grand Rapids Press Reporter Chris Knape. Learn More
Grand Rapids' Traffic Safety Manager Chris Zull says the city wants to make Division Avenue "more walkable, more friendly and have it become a destination where people want to go and shop," according to Fox 17 News Reporter Courtney Perna. Watch the video
05.24.2011 – Revision Division Project Overview
Grand Rapids is not the first city to experiment with road diets. This presentation, developed for the May 25 public information meetings, highlights the boundaries, purpose and process for the Division Avenue pilot project. It also identifies a sampling of similar projects across the U.S.
05.13.2011 – Two Public Meetings to Discuss Revision Division
Both on May 25. The first meeting is 10 a.m. at the Diocese of Grand Rapids. The second is 1:30 p.m. at Kendall College of Art & Design. Please join us.
03.22.2011 – GR to put Division Ave on diet
City engineers say similar changes along Plainfield Avenue and East Fulton have been successful reports WOOD TV 8's Joe LaFurgey. Learn More
03.19.2011 – GR planners want to put Division Avenue on a 'road diet'.
Supporters of the experiment include Grand Action, Dwelling Place and retail experts reports Jim Harger of the Grand Rapids Press. Learn More
03.15.2011 – City Resolution Supporting Complete Streets
Complete Streets support economic growth and community stability by providing efficient connections between home, school, work, recreation and retail destinations the resolution states.
03.14.2011 – City Resolution to Approve Division Avenue Pilot Project
The study will determine whether Division Avenue can become a better street than it is today writes city Planning Director Suzanne Schulz.
Find out more about the Revision Division project through several helpful publications.
- -March 8, 2013-Fact sheet of interim findingsPDF 1.5mb
- Before and After Roadway Cross-SectionsPDF 180kb
- -May 25, 2011-Public Meeting ResultsPDF 139kb
- Evaluation of Lane Reduction & Road DietsPDF 221kb
- -May 25, 2011-Public Meeting PresentationPDF 7.2mb
- -March 15, 2011-Resolution Supporting Complete StreetsPDF 139kb
- -March 14, 2011-Resolution Approving Revision Division Pilot ProjectPDF 123kb
Revision Division Project FAQ's
Q: What is a road diet?
A: A road diet typically reduces the number of automobile lanes in a roadway to provide greater access for all users who travel along it, including motorists, transit riders, bicyclists and pedestrians. Successful road diets improve safety, mobility and livability for the community.
Q: Why are we considering a road diet on Division Avenue?
A: How to improve the design and operation of Division Avenue has been a persistent question for many years. Division Avenue is not only a travel corridor for motorists. More and more people live, work, shop and entertain in the corridor. The road diet study will examine the street in a way that accounts for all these uses and finally answers the question of whether Division Avenue can become a better street than it is today.
Q: Will the Division diet cause traffic congestion?
A: Generally, road diets have minimal effect on traffic; in many cases the flow of traffic actually becomes safer and more efficient. The diet strategy is most effective where streets have been overbuilt to meet existing traffic volume. Approximately 15,000 cars travel through the Division corridor each day, which makes the wide street a strong candidate for a road diet. With proper analysis and implementation, traffic flow through the corridor likely will remain relatively unchanged and possibly could improve.
Q: Have Road Diets been successfully implemented in Grand Rapids?
A: Similar successful conversions on Plainfield and East Fulton suggest the benefits include improved traffic flow, fewer car crashes and improved public safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. Project partners also anticipate a redesigned roadway could stimulate retail and redevelopment activity and increase property values.
Q: I've noticed new street markings of a bike with two arrows/chevrons. What do they mean?
A: This is a Shared Lane Marking or "Sharrow." A Sharrow is a pavement marking to indicate a shared use lane for both bicycles and automobiles. The placement of the sharrow is intended to show where cyclists can ride on the street without being hit by a suddenly opened car door (aka the "door zone").
Q: Why aren't there bike lanes?
A: After careful consideration, the project partners determined that bicycle lane markings will not be installed during this pilot project. Full bicycle lane designations will be considered as an ongoing part of the study and may be integrated into future development of this corridor.
Q: Does Revision Division address the needs of the growing cycling community?
A: The residents of the City of Grand Rapids clearly aspire to build a bicycle-friendly community. To that end, the city departments of Planning, Traffic Safety, Engineering and the Downtown Development Authority continue to work diligently to evaluate opportunities to enhance and expand the non-motorized transportation network on city streets. Division Avenue is no exception. As a part of the Revision Division effort, Division Avenue will now accommodate bicycles in two ways. Division from Michigan Street to Library Street features a 6' space from the right edge lane marking to the curb face. Division from Oakes Street to Wealthy Street now has Shared Lane Markings to indicate shared bicycle and automobile use.
Q: Will a road diet make Division Avenue safer?
A: The expectation is that the reconfigured travel lanes will result in more uniform traffic flow, lower vehicle speeds and fewer car crashes. Multiple case studies cite the decrease in motor vehicle accidents as a beneficial outcome of the road dieting process. New markings will also promote greater driver awareness of bicyclers and pedestrians will have fewer traffic lanes to cross. A new pedestrian crossing also will be added at the corner of Bartlett Street and Division Avenue.
Q: Will there be any conflict between the new pavement striping and the new Bus Rapid Transit line the Rapid transit authority will add to Division Avenue?
A: No. The BRT will turn east at Wealthy Street and not pass through the section of Division Avenue proposed to be reconfigured.
Q: What happens if this pilot project doesn't work?
A: That's a possibility. After the one-year study the project partners will determine whether to adopt the new lane configuration or repaint the road the way it used to be.
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